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4 Oct, 2010 09:20

Extradition of alleged arms baron stalled

A court in Thailand has rejected a US request to drop a second set of charges against alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout – a decision that stalls his extradition to the United States.

On Tuesday, a Thai court is continuing its hearing on the extradition. The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed hope that the court will make unbiased and objective decision.

In August this year an Appeals Court in Thailand made a decision to extradite the man to the US, reversing a lower court's decision from a year earlier.

However, a set of charges filed by the US prior to the decision to extradite Bout delayed any movement.

Although the US requested that the charges be dropped, Monday's hearing has ruled that the accusations of money laundering and fraud have to be dealt with locally before an extradition can take place.

Still, the wife of Viktor Bout Alla believes the US is preparing to force her husband to give the testimony they need. It comes as a US aircraft carrier arrived in Thailand for the first time ever.

”It is quite possible they will extradite him and just lock him up on some aircraft carrier and force him to give whatever testimony the US wants him to give,” she said. “I think they will go as far as it takes to get it and I am sure everyone understands there are plenty of ways to do it these days, starting with chemicals and psychological pressure.”

According to investigative journalist Daniel Estulin, Thai authorities, namely the Prime Minister, are in no position to interfere with Bout’s fate.

“I think the chances are slim at best and none at worst, because again Thailand is literally an American protectorate,” he said. “The country produces nothing of value. The only thing it does, it literally lives off what the US government pays the Thailand government in natural resources, in things they buy from Thailand.”

Kent Goodman from Trine Day Books, a publisher which specializes in investigative writing that tries to challenge the mainstream media version of events, says the Thai government is “being played as a chess pieces in an international game between Russia and America.”

“But they don’t want to seem as if they were pressured by America even if they have been,” Goodman said. “That’s why they are waiting for this whole thing to play out all the way to the courts.”

“America has promised Thailand fighter jets and cheap oil if the decision goes their way,” Goodman added. “Of course, so has Russia. So it’s an international high-stakes game, and unfortunately Mr. Bout is stuck in the middle of it.”

Bout, 43, is charged in the US with smuggling weapons to a terrorist group in Colombia and conspiracy to kill US nationals and officer, among other charges. A former Soviet military officer, Bout has denied all charges, appealing to the Russian government for support.

If convicted, he may face life in prison.