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Thailand to extradite accused Russian arms dealer Bout to U.S. Wednesday

RIA Novosti

16:34 24/08/2010

BANGKOK, August 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russian businessman Viktor Bout, suspected by Washington of arms trafficking, will be extradited from Thailand to the United States on Wednesday, Thai English-language daily the Nation said on Tuesday.

"The U.S. authorities will send a special jet to pick up Victor Bout, dubbed by U.S. authorities the Merchant of Death, from the Don Mueng Military Airport Wednesday morning," a well-informed source was quoted as saying.

The source said some 50 police commandos from the Crime Suppression Division will escort Bout from the Bang Kwang Maximum Security Prison to hand him over to U.S. authorities.

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

On Friday the Thai appeals court ruled to extradite the Russian to the United States.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Thai court's decision politically motivated, suggesting it was made to appease Washington. He also said Moscow would seek Bout's repatriation.

Responding to the Russian allegations, Thai Office of the Judiciary spokesman Sithisak Vanachakij said on Monday that the appeals court's decision to extradite Bout was made without pressure or interference, the Bangkok Post reported.

Sithisak said the appeals court based its ruling "on facts and evidence as well as the law with due justice."

The appeals court found that Bout was an arms trader who delivered weapons by plane, he said, adding that the court had concluded that the offence was criminal rather than political.

Sithisak said the court handled the case with great care, in full knowledge of the fact that both Russia and the United States are long-time allies of Thailand.

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