Thai extradition decision illegal: Bout attorney

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Thailand's decision Thursday to extradite an alleged Russian arms dealer dubbed the "Merchant of Death" to the United States was "illegal," his attorney told the Interfax news agency.

"This is a judicially illegal decision because the Thai court never reviewed the second US extradition request concerning (Viktor) Bout," Viktor Burobin told the Russian news agency.

Bout was flown out of Bangkok Tuesday on a US special jet after Thailand approved his extradition on terrorism charges.

Bout, a 43-year-old former Soviet air force pilot, had been fighting extradition since his March 2008 arrest after a sting operation in Bangkok involving undercover US agents posing as Colombian FARC rebels.

A Thai appeals court in August ordered Bout to be handed over to the United States on terrorism charges, prompting Washington to send a special jet to collect him.

But the plane was left waiting on the tarmac after the process was held up by technicalities over new accusations of money-laundering and fraud filed by the United States in an attempt to strengthen its case.

Burobin was referring to this second set of US accusation in his comments.

However, the the attorney conceded that there was little his side could do once Bout was in fact handed over.

"If this administrative decision is carried out and Bout is delivered to the United States, it will be impossible to either overturn or appeal," Burobin said.

© 2010 AFP

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