Los Angeles 10/5/2010 8:49:06 PM
News / Politics

Extradition Of Viktor Bout Closer

Viktor Bout is allegedly the biggest illegal arms dealer ever known. The so-called “Merchant of Death” is allegedly behind an arms dealing network that spans three continents, and has been in operation for nearly 30 years.

Russian Bout was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 and has been fighting US efforts to extradite him to America, where he will stand trial on charges of conspiring to kill US citizens.

A Thai court has ruled today that the secondary charges against him, fraud and money laundering are dismissed, which has cleared the way for his extradition to the US. The court has advised that the 43-year-old Bout can be extradited in 72 hours, meaning he could be in the US as early as Friday, pending the approval of the Thai government.

The US alleges that Bout, a former soviet soldier, used military cargo planes to facilitate the trafficking of weapons into the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He is also accused of brokering deals with regimes in Afghanistan, a number of African countries such as Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Bout’s wife claims that the accusations are a “fantasy,” part of a US plan to discredit Russia and that the US is simply furthering its own interests, that the media “had created an image of Viktor Bout as the Merchant of Death. It is not true.”

The issue is a no-win one for Thailand, because no matter whether it chooses to keep Bout in Thailand or let him be extradited, a key trading partner and ally will be displeased either way: choosing whether to displease Russia or the US is not a decision anyone would be happy to make.