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Thai gov. to take final decision on extradition of Russian arms dealer Bout to U.S.

RIA Novosti

23:11 21/08/2010

BANGKOK, August 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Thai government will take the final decision on the extradition to the United States of suspected Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, Thai state news agency THA said on Saturday.

"Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government had carefully and thoroughly reviewed the text of the Appeal Court of Thailand on the extradition to the U.S. of Victor Bout...and will make a final decision in accordance with the legal aspects of the case and international treaties," the agency said.

According to Thai extradition law and an extradition agreement between Thailand and the United States, the Thai government may take the final decision on an extradition case, the agency said.

Former Russian army officer, Viktor Bout, 44, was arrested in Thailand 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.

The Thai appeals court ruled on Friday to extradite Bout to the United States.

THA will publish the Thai premier's full statement. Earlier on Saturday Thai English-language media published quotes from the statement, in which Vejjajiva described Friday's verdict of the appeals court as "objective."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday Russia was seeking Bout's repatriation and called the court verdict unjust and politically motivated.

On Friday evening several Thai national TV stations began simultaneously attacking the Russian businessman, naming him "the biggest illegal arms trader in the world," "the Russian arms dealer" and "the death dealer," despite the fact that Bout has never been proved guilty.

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