In a further twist in the tale of the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, his extradition from Thailand to the US has been delayed. Asia Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh explains why the “merchant of death” is detained.
In a further twist in the tale of the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, his extradition from Thailand to the US has been delayed. Asia Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh explains why the game’s not over for the “merchant of death”.
It was a denouement befitting a man of some mystery, a chapter so confused and jarring that it seems written to fit the thriller of the man’s life.
The verdict was a bit of a surprise after a two and a half year political and legal tangle. But even then it seemed the story could not be over that simply.
The reporters gathered outside Bang Kwan maximum security prison, where Bout had been moved to after the verdict.
The United States private jet sat on the tarmac, awaiting its very prized passenger. (America has spent millions on this man so far, so it were never going to send him to the US on an economy ticket).
Alla, his wife, waited patiently as well. And nothing happened. At all.
The game was not yet over.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Vejajiva Abhisit emerged to say there were still some legal processes to get through. The Americans – I presume he meant – had lodged some new charges against Bout, in a bid last week to still give the Thai courts something to work on and detain him if they decided to dismiss the appeal they were to rule on last Friday.
As it turned out, the Americans didn’t need that failsafe, but now they have to legally remove it before they can have their man.
The court hearing for this is scheduled for September 4th if you read the Russian media, or a month later if you read the western press. Yes, it has become like that.