No relation between “Merchant of Death” and Thai arms seizure

Thai police say there is no relation between a plane carrying weapons that was seized in Bangkok earlier this month and the Russian businessman Viktor Bout.

“Police failed to find any link between the Russian citizen and the Il-76 plane with arms onboard flying from North Korea,” stated a spokesman for Thai authorities on Tuesday.

Bout is fighting a US extradition request from the Thai capital where he faces illegal arms charges.

Earlier reports had suggested that the plane owned by a Georgina air carrier and containing 30 tons of rocket-propelled grenades and surface-to-air missiles was aimed at influencing the case of Bout's extradition.

In a violation of a UN Resolution banning arms deals with Pyongyang, the plane was seized en route from North Korea to Ukraine and was heading to Tehran.

It was detained in Bangkok on December 12. Five crew members have been charged with the illegal possession of weapons and arms trafficking.

The plane crew completely denies the allegations and said all members were in a Pyongyang hotel while the plane was being loaded.