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U.S. brings new charges against Russian 'arms dealer' to Thai court

RIA Novosti

07:53 20/08/2010

BANGKOK, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - The United States has brought new charges against Russian 'arms dealer' Viktor Bout to the Thai criminal court just hours before the country's appeals court has to make its final decision on Bout's extradition to the United States.

Former Russian army officer Viktor Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 under a request from the United States, which accuses him of illegally trading arms. He has repeatedly denied the accusations.

In August 2009, the Bangkok Criminal Court ruled in Bout's favor, denying the U.S. extradition request due to a lack of evidence and because it believed the case to be politically motivated. However, the United States appealed the ruling and filed new charges against him.

According to the new extradition request filed by the United States on Friday, Bout and his former business partner, U.S. citizen Richard Chichakli, are accused of money laundering, telegraph and internet-mediated money transfer fraud, as well as of violating the U.S. president's sanctions against them.

The request was filed just before the start of an appeals court hearing expected to see the final decision on Bout's extradition.

In April, a Bangkok court dismissed Bout's claim against a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer. In his claim, Bout asserted that U.S. officers violated Thai laws when arresting him in March 2008. However, the court said the DEA agent's whereabouts could not be established.

The court previously rejected Bout's claims against another two DEA agents, who had also participated in his arrest, on the grounds that they were U.S. embassy staff and had diplomatic immunity.

Bout denies all charges and says he has never been involved in the arms trade.

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