Bankok: Escorted by dozens of Thai
commandos, an alleged Russian arms dealer will be taken from
prison tomorrow to a Bangkok airport and extradited to the
US, police said, despite strong opposition from Moscow.
US authorities have sent a private jet to Don Mueang
airport to take away Viktor Bout -- dubbed the "Merchant of
Death" -- on terrorism charges, said Crime Suppression
Division acting chief Supisarn Bhakdinarinath.
He will be guarded by 50 armed police commandos during
the transfer from the Bang Kwang maximum-security prison,
where he is being held, he said.
"I cannot say the exact time and route because it`s
top secret," Supisarn added.
Bout, said to have inspired the Hollywood film "Lord
of War" starring Nicolas Cage, has been fighting extradition
since his March 2008 arrest after a Bangkok sting operation
involving US agents posing as Colombian rebels.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if
convicted in the United States on charges including conspiracy
to kill US nationals and to provide material support or
resources to a foreign terrorist organisation.
The extradition -- ordered Friday by a Thai appeals
court -- prompted a furious reaction from Moscow, which voiced
"extreme disappointment," saying the decision was politically
The United States in contrast has hailed the
extradition ruling and said Bout`s prosecution would be an
Washington, which has described Bout as "one of the
world`s most prolific arms traffickers," had lobbied hard for
his extradition, summoning the Thai ambassador last week to
emphasise it was of "the highest priority".
Bout allegedly agreed to supply millions of dollars of
weapons to undercover US agents in Thailand posing as rebels
from Colombia`s Marxist FARC group, which Washington considers
a terrorist organisation.
US prosecutors allege he agreed to the sale with the
understanding that the weapons were to be used to attack
United States helicopters.
A US indictment accuses Bout of using a fleet of cargo
planes to transport weapons and military equipment to parts of
the world including Africa, South America and the Middle East.
It alleges that the arms he has sold or brokered have
fuelled conflicts and supported regimes in Afghanistan,
Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Rwanda,
Sierra Leone and Sudan.
Bout has denied the charges and says that he ran a
legitimate air cargo business.