Bout extradition to US hits problems

THAILAND has agreed to extradite air cargo arms dealer, Viktor Bout, to the US but legal wranglings may still see him go free.

“The court has decided to detain him for extradition to the US,” Judge Jitakorn Patanasiri said. “This case is not political, it is a criminal matter.” Although, the court added that if Bout is still in the country in three months time that he should be released.

The case has had both the Russian and US governments strongarming Thailand into releasing Bout to each of them. Needless to say, the decision to give him to the US has angered Russia.

“We regret, what is in my opinion, an unjust decision, a political decision that the appeal court in Thailand has taken,” said Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

However, the US’ attempts of being legally thorough may have backfired. With a Department of Justice aircraft already waiting at Bangkok airport to take Bout back for prosecution on charges of terrorism, Thailand is now saying that secondary charges brought against him must first be processed. Considering that the first charges took over two years to process and with the extradition having only three months before lapsing it looks like Bout may yet be freed.

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