A Thai court delayed reputed Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout’s extradition hearing to the US for a second time after his new defense attorney failed to show up for the high-profile case yesterday.
Bout, dubbed “The Merchant of Death,” has been indicted in the US on four terrorism charges. Though he denies any involvement in illicit activities, he is regarded as one of the world’s most-wanted arms traffickers and was purportedly the model for the arms dealer portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 movie Lord of War.
Barefoot and shackled, Bout was led into Bangkok’s Criminal Court for a hearing that ended abruptly because his defense lawyer, whose name was not immediately available, was not present.
The lawyer “says he has another case. The court deems that it is necessary to postpone,” Judge Jitakorn Patanasiri told the court.
The judge initially set the new date as Aug. 22 but then corrected himself to say Sept. 22.
Prosecutor Vipon Kititasnaisornchai agreed to the postponement after the court showed him a formal request filed by a representative of the defense lawyer.
“The newly appointed lawyer has another case scheduled at the same time,” Vipon told the court, adding he “preferred not to postpone the case but the circumstance was beyond [the defense lawyer’s] capacity.”
On June 9, the first hearing was delayed for because Bout’s other attorney, Lak Nitiwatanavichan, said he had heart problems.
Lak, who is now serving as a legal adviser in the case, said Bout plans to fight the extradition.
“He’s innocent. There are no grounds for his extradition,” the lawyer said.
The 41-year-old Russian faces charges of conspiring to kill Americans, conspiring to kill US officers or employees, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile, a US indictment made public on May 6 stated. He faces a life sentence.
US prosecutors say Bout was offering a deadly arsenal of weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including more than 700 surface-to-air missiles, thousands of guns, high-tech helicopters, and airplanes outfitted with grenade launchers and missiles. The US classifies FARC as a terrorist organization.
The charges were based in part on a covertly recorded meeting in Thailand on March 6.
Bout was arrested after a sting operation in which undercover US agents posed as Colombian rebels.
Bout, who has been accused of breaking several UN arms embargoes, has a long list of alleged clients including African dictators and warlords such as former Liberian president Charles Taylor and both sides of the civil war in Angola.
China’s largest naval training ship sailed for the Philippines yesterday, its last stop of a regional “friendly” tour, amid growing unease over Chinese maritime activities in the South China Sea. The giant training vessel, Qi Jiguang, bigger than a typical destroyer, left Brunei on Thursday for the Philippines as part of a 40-day trip, which has included stops in Vietnam and Thailand. At the end of its trip, Qi Jiguang and its crew of 476 navy students and officers would have passed through the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand and Western Pacific. ‘FRIENDLY’ Training conducted by the ship,
A long trek across the desert of northeastern Niger brings visitors to one of the most astonishing and rewarding sights in the Sahel: fortified villages of salt and clay perched on rocks with the Saharan sands laying siege below. Generations of travelers have stood before the “ksars” of Djado, wondering at their crenelated walls, watchtowers, secretive passages and wells, all of them testifying to a skilled, but unknown hand. Who chose to build this outpost in a scorched and desolate region — and why they built it — are questions that have never been fully answered. Just as beguiling is why it
‘NATURAL CAUSES’: New evidence indicated Kathleen Folbigg’s two daughters died of myocarditis caused by genetics, while a son died of a neurogenetic disorder An Australian woman who spent 20 years in prison was pardoned and released yesterday based on new scientific evidence that her four children died by natural causes as she had insisted. The pardon was seen as the quickest way of getting Kathleen Folbigg out of prison and a final report from the second inquiry into her guilt could recommend that the state Court of Appeals quash her convictions. Folbigg, now 55, was released from a prison in Grafton, New South Wales, following an unconditional pardon by state Governor Margaret Beazley. Australian state governors are figureheads who act on instructions of governments. New South
RE-ENGAGEMENT: Both sides described the talks as ‘candid’ and ‘productive,’ with the US State Department saying that it wants to restore ‘high-level diplomacy’ Senior US and Chinese officials yesterday held “candid” talks in Beijing, days after the two countries’ defense chiefs squared off at a security forum. US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink met with Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu (馬朝旭), becoming the most senior US official to publicly travel to Beijing since an alleged Chinese spy balloon was downed in the US. Both sides described the talks as “candid” and “productive” in their readouts, with the US Department of State saying that the exchange was part of ongoing efforts to restore “high-level diplomacy.” The Chinese