ThailandÃ¢â‚¬™s government has said it will appeal against a Thai courtÃ¢â‚¬™s decision rejecting a US request for the extradition of Russian alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout. Bout, who has been dubbed the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Merchant of DeathÃ¢â‚¬Â, has been fighting extradition since his March 2008 arrest in Bangkok while allegedly agreeing to supply missiles to Colombian rebels via his air cargo business.
A Bangkok court on Tuesday said that it did not have the authority to order the extradition of Bout because the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was not listed as a terrorist group in Thailand. News of the appeal came after the US said it was Ã¢â‚¬Å“disappointed and mystifiedÃ¢â‚¬Â by the courtÃ¢â‚¬™s decision to reject BoutÃ¢â‚¬™s extradition and hoped the Thai government would appeal against the decision. BoutÃ¢â‚¬™s colourful life story is said to have inspired the Hollywood film Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lord of WarÃ¢â‚¬Â starring Nicolas Cage.
The former Soviet air force officer was arrested in a sting at a five-star Bangkok hotel after allegedly agreeing to supply surface-to-air missiles to US agents posing as guerrillas from FARC. Bout had faced life in prison if sent to the US and convicted there on terrorism charges, including conspiracy to kill US officers or employees and conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile. He denied the charges and insists that he ran a legitimate air cargo business.
A US indictment accused him of using a fleet of cargo planes to transport weapons and military equipment to some of the worldÃ¢â‚¬™s most violent conflicts, in Africa, South America and the Middle East. The nickname Ã¢â‚¬Å“Merchant of DeathÃ¢â‚¬Â was coined by a former British foreign office minister and also used for a 2007 book on BoutÃ¢â‚¬™s alleged activities.