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BANGKOK, September 19 (Itar-Tass) —— A criminal court in Bangkok on Monday will meet for a session to revise the extradition case of Russian businessman Viktor Bout who is currently on trial in the United States for alleged arms trafficking. Bout’s lawyers will insist that the man’s extradition to the United States in 2010 was made in flagrant violation of Thailand’s laws.
Bout’s Thailand lawyer Lak Nitivat Vichan initiated the revision of his client’s case in August 2011. According to the lawyer, representative from the country’s prosecution agencies and the ministry of justice, who gave out the Russian businessman to the U.S. authorities, must answer a number of questions. There were no documents sanctioning Bout’s extradition, neither there was a legislative base for that, so the extradition was illegal, he claims.
Bout was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 6, 2008, at a U.S. request. The United States was unable to present evidence for a whole year but kept referring to newspaper articles and conclusions of certain experts. The Thai court acquitted the businessman and denied his transfer to the United States in August 2009. The United States demanded to review the case. The Thai Court of Appeal said on August 20, 2010, that Bout would be transferred to the United States where he could be sentenced to life in jail. Bout accused U.S. security services of fabricating his case and falsely alleging his plans to sell mobile anti-aircraft missile systems to Colombian insurgents. Four charges have been brought against him: a criminal conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, conspiracy to kill persons in the civil service, criminal conspiracy to purchase and sell antiaircraft missiles and criminal conspiracy to supply weapons to terrorist groups. The businessman has pleaded not guilty on all the charges.
In late August, Presiding Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that Thai police had violated norms of procedure after Bout’s arrest and agents from the U.S. secret services had exerted pressure on the man to force him to collaborate. She satisfied Bout’s lawyers’ request and ruled that the Attorney’s Office could not use in the trial of Bout the statements he made during his first interrogation in Thailand. The judge noted that Bout made his statements “in a difficult emotional state” and “under duress” by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that were interrogating Bout after his arrest.
The trial of Viktor Bout is scheduled for October 11 this year. In convicted, the 44-year-old businessman faces from 25 years in prison to life imprisonment.