A Thai court rejected a prosecutor’s request to drop fresh charges against accused Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, potentially complicating U.S. efforts to have him extradited to face terrorism charges.
By law, prosecutors can’t drop the charges because Bout objected to their withdrawal, the Criminal Court said in a statement today. Prosecutors sought Bout’s extradition on six new charges prior to an August 20 ruling by an appeals court that he could be sent back to the U.S., where a grand jury indicted him on four charges that he plotted to kill Americans.
The court plans to rule tomorrow at 2 p.m. on whether Bout can be extradited to the U.S. on the new charges, according to a statement. Bout plans to file more cases to the Criminal Court to further stall his extradition, lawyer Lak Nittiwattanawichan told reporters.
The strategy of filing more cases, and in effect, bringing further charges against himself, is a legal tactic by Bout to delay extradition to the U.S., and at the same time, figure out a way to be freed.
Bout’s case has fueled a diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Russia, with each country pressuring Thailand to follow its version of events. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the August 20 ruling to extradite Bout “political” and summoned Thailand’s ambassador.
The U.S. says the ex-Soviet air force officer ran an air cargo network that shipped weapons to conflict zones from Afghanistan to Rwanda. Bout has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, saying he was framed by U.S. undercover agents who posed as Colombian rebels during his arrest in Bangkok two years ago.
Bout’s extradition is ultimately going to come down to Thailand’s political decision to acquiesce to U.S. or Russian authorities.
Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of the offices listed above.