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6 Mar, 2009 06:36

'Worse than Guantanamo’ - ‘Merchant of Death’ speaks out

The extradition hearing against Russian businessman Victor Bout, who is accused of arms smuggling has started in Thailand.

Bout expressed his concern over the fact that the prosecution has yet to provide evidence against him.

“If I am the major arms dealer, where is the evidence?” he said. “What is going on with human rights? What is going on with presumption of innocence?”

Bout said that in the prison he is treated “worse than in Guantanamo” and added that US are pushing Thailand for his extradition.

The businessman, called the Merchant of Death in the West, was arrested in Bangkok a year ago by request of the United States.

Prosecutors say he is accused of trying to sell shoulder-to-air missiles and armour-piercing rocket launchers to be airdropped into Colombia.

He is also accused of breaking UN weapons embargos around the world over the last two decades, thus fuelling wars and armed conflicts.

Having spent almost a year in a Thai prison, the Russian businessman still denies all the charges