Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

France commemorates a hero of the left

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Diplomatic strain for John Kerry

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Germany and Russia 'discuss secret Ukraine deal'

Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • US condemns school shelling as Israel calls up 16,000 more reservists

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

  • Argentina fails to reach deal with creditors

    Read more

Asia-pacific

US seeks extradition of Russian arrested in Bangkok

Video by Oliver FARRY , NELSON RAND , Cyril PAYEN

Latest update : 2009-03-07

US officials have said they will seek the extradition of notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The Russian was arrested in a luxury hotel room in Bangkok in an elaborate sting operation in which US agents posed as Marxist Colombian rebels.

AFP - Thai authorities detained notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, as US officials said Friday they will seek his extradition over conspiring to sell millions of dollars in weapons.

 

The Russian was arrested in a luxury hotel room in Bangkok on Thursday in an elaborate sting operation in which US agents posed as Marxist Colombian rebels seeking an arsenal of modern weapons.

 

Thomas Pasquarello, regional director for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, told a press conference here that the United States wanted to prosecute Bout on charges of aiding terrorists.

 

"He's called the Merchant of Death and the Man of War for a reason," Pasquarello said. "We have warrants for Mr Bout and we do intend to extradite him," he said.

 

But Thai police told the same press conference that Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death" for his alleged role in arming rebels from Africa to South America, could face trial in Thailand.

 

Russia also plans to seek his extradition while Belgium has worked for years to capture him through the international police agency Interpol.

 

A beefy man with sharp blue eyes, Bout was escorted by 15 police and heavily armed commandos as he was paraded in handcuffs Friday before the media.

 

Wearing an orange polo shirt and khaki pants, the Russian sat stony-faced and silent as Thai police spoke about his legal fate.

 

He has throughout the years allegedly helped arm Afghanistan's Taliban militia, Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, Marxist rebels in South America and former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.

 

The 41-year-old suspect -- whose dealings inspired the arms smuggling movie "Lord of War" starring Nicholas Cage -- was captured Thursday just hours after arriving in Bangkok on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow, Thai police said.

 

Deputy commissioner of Thailand's Central Investigation Bureau, Surapol Tuanthong, told reporters that prosecutors would first decide whether Bout could face trial in Bangkok on charges of aiding terrorists.

 
If convicted, he could spend 10 years in a Thai prison.

 

"If the attorney general decides there is not enough evidence to prosecute him in Thailand, they will not bring the case to court. The US DEA could take Viktor Bout back to the US," he added.

 

So far, the United States is the only country to formally request his extradition, Surapol said.

 

Bout and his close associate Andrew Smulian are wanted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

 

They could face up to 15 years in jail if extradited to the United States and convicted.

 

Mystery surrounded the fate of Smulian, with Thai police saying that they were still searching for him, while the DEA's Pasquarello said cryptically that "he is not in custody in Thailand."

 

Bout was arrested after DEA sources set up several meetings with Smulian in Romania, Denmark and the Dutch West Indies to discuss a deal, according to a previously sealed complaint released by New York prosecutors.

 

During the meetings, agents recorded telephone calls to Bout in which he discussed shipping an arsenal of deadly weapons, including helicopters, armour-piercing rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles.

 

A former Soviet air force officer who was born in 1967, Bout was dubbed the "Merchant of Death" by former British government minister Peter Hain due to his involvement in supplying arms to Liberia and Angola.

 

In March last year, US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against seven companies accused of fueling the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the start of the decade. Three of the companies were linked to Bout.

Date created : 2009-03-06

COMMENT(S)