Thai court adjourns "Merchant of Death" hearing
A Thai court adjourned an extradition hearing for alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is wanted by the United States on suspicion of trying to sell weapons to Colombia's FARC rebels.world Updated: Dec 23, 2008 12:20 IST
A Thai court adjourned an extradition hearing on Tuesday for alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is wanted by the United States on suspicion of trying to sell weapons to Colombia's FARC rebels.
The presiding judge at Bangkok's Criminal Court rescheduled Bout's next extradition hearing to March 6 after two defence witnesses failed to turn up.
US prosecutors say Bout, arrested in Bangkok in an American sting operation after arriving from Moscow in March, has been trafficking arms since the 1990s, using a fleet of cargo planes to send weapons to Africa, South America and the Middle East.
They want Thailand to extradite him to New York, where he could stand trial for conspiracy to sell arms to the FARC that the United States says could be used to kill Americans in Colombia.
Dubbed the "Merchant of Death" by the media, Bout made his first comments to the court on Monday, denying any wrongdoing and saying he was merely a businessman involved in aviation.
His lawyers argue their client was illegally detained by Thai and American officials.
According to the United Nations and the US Treasury, Bout has sold or brokered arms that have helped fuel wars in Afghanistan, Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.