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7 May, 2009 17:55

‘Merchant of death’ files case against American agents

‘Merchant of death’ files case against American agents

Russian businessman Victor Bout, who was accused of arms smuggling during a trial in Thailand, has filed charges against three American intelligence agents.

Alla Bout, his wife, told ITAR-TASS that her husband’s lawyers have already filed a lawsuit.

“On the 4 of May, lawyers filed a legal action against three American intelligence agents, members of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Robert Zachariasievich, Derek Odney and Scott Hacker,” said Bout’s wife.

According to Alla Bout, the court has already accepted documents for a preliminary examination and will make a decision on May 30 as to whether to proceed against the American citizens.

Robert Zahariasievich led the operation resulting in the arrest of Victor Bout in 2008 and is in charge of the prosecution on the American side. Two other agents participated in the arrest and interrogated of the businessman.

In his suit, Victor Bout is accusing American agents of violating six articles of the Thai Criminal Code, including illegal arrest and searches, conducting interrogations by using threats, instigation for committing a crime, passing video records to the United States and additional charges. Some of these charges carry three to six years in prison.

“In any case, Victor intends to seek criminal prosecution of those at fault internationally, including in the US,” Alla Bout told ITAR-TASS.

The businessman, known in the West as the ‘Merchant of Death’, was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 at the request of the United States. American authorities accused Bout of attempting to sell shoulder-to-air missiles and armour-piercing rocket launchers and demanded his extradition.

Bout was also accused of breaking UN weapons embargos throughout the world during the last two decades, thus fueling wars and armed conflicts.

Having spent more than a year in a Thai prison, the Russian businessman still denies all charges. The prosecutor’s position is reportedly based solely upon stories published in newspapers and no other evidence has yet been presented in Court.

The next session in the Bout case is scheduled for 19 May.