Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Alleged Russian Arms Dealer One Step Closer to Extradition to US

After an initial setback where the Thai courts refused to dismiss the charges against alleged arms dealer Victor Bout, the courts agreed to dismiss charged against him for lack of evidence.  These charges, brought against Bout at the request of the U.S., were actually holding up his extradition, which was ordered back in August.

When the court dismissed the charges against him, Bout told his attorney to appeal.  Usually defendants don't appeal when charges against them are dropped.  Actually he was probably talking about the overall process, but the idea of a defendant arguing that he should be tried for crimes is pretty amusing.

Extradition is still not guaranteed, as Bout may try some appeal, and the Prime Minister could intervene on his behalf.  I find the later scenario of PM Abhisit coming to Bout's rescue to be extraordinarily unlikely.  While Thailand would like to have better relations with Russia, it would be a slap in the face to the U.S.  Its one thing if the Thai courts had found legal reasons (real or not) to refuse to turn Bout over, its another for a politician to come to his rescue.    Thailand and the U.S. have a very good relationship, and the PM would be foolish to jeopardize that. 

Of course, even if all the legal hurdles are cleared for Bout's to be handed over to U.S. authorities, there is always the chance that he could meet some sort of accident.  He arrived at court wearing a bullet proof vest and surrounded by black clad soldiers wearing body armor and touting machine guns.  

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