US Congressmen want ‘merchant of death’ extradited

A group of US Congressmen are calling on President Barack Obama to have Russian businessman Viktor Bout extradited from Thailand.

However, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has criticised the initiative.

According to the Senators, Bout’s extradition should be a top priority for the United States.

Washington accuses Bout of involvement in weapons trafficking and conspiracy to murder US citizens and officials. He was arrested in the Thai capital of Bangkok last March following a request from the U.S. and a Thai court is now considering his case. Viktor Bout denies the accusations and his defence team says the U.S. has no evidence of his guilt.

If extradited to the U.S., he could face life imprisonment.

This week, more than two dozen U.S. lawmakers called for the Obama administration to ensure Bout is extradited. The legislators said Russian authorities want Bout turned over to them, raising the possibility he could avoid trial in the United States. In the past, Russia has rejected requests to extradite its citizens.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry has criticised the US Congressional initiative. The Foreign Ministry said, in a statement on Saturday, that the Congressmen's call was ‘bewildering’ since charges against Bout have been dropped in Thailand.