Alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed the "Merchant of Death," will be extradited to the US from Thailand on charges that he conspired to sell weapons to FARC guerillas in Colombia, a Thai court ruled today.
Bout has been in jail in Bangkok for the last two years, after being trapped in a sting operation planned by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. The US government supplies large amounts of money, as well as arms and training to the Colombian government to fight cocaine-producing FARC rebels. Bout is also accused of selling weapons to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And now he's pretty much screwed for good. From the Guardian:
According to the US grand jury indictment, Bout told the agents he could supply them with 700-800 surface-to-air missiles, more than 5,000 AK-47s and millions of rounds of ammunition, as well as C4 explosive, landmines and unmanned aerial drones.
Things aren't looking so good for Bout. His lawyer is lodging a petition with the Thai government claiming Bout would never receive a fair trial in the US, and that his life would be in danger if he is extradited. Thai officials have three months to extradite Bout or he will be freed by law, but that's highly unlikely to happen. In an interview last year, Bout called the allegations against him "lies and bullshit."
The not-very-good 2005 movie Lord of War was loosely based on Bout's life as an international black market arms dealer, and maybe could have been better if Nicolas Cage wasn't in it. Bout is said to have sold weapons to Pat Robertson's pal and business partner Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, among dozens of other rebels groups and nasty governments.
Above is a picture of Bout sitting in a Thai jail. Nice socks!
[Guardian; Image via AP]