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Russian Arms Trafficker Denied Bail

•  Breaking Legal News     updated  2008/03/10 20:32

A Thai court denied bail Tuesday for a purported Russian arms dealer wanted by the United States, saying it feared the suspect might try to flee the country, his lawyer said.

Viktor Bout, who has been called "The Merchant of Death," was arrested in Thailand last week at a Bangkok luxury hotel in a U.S.-led sting operation. He was charged with conspiracy for allegedly trying to smuggle missiles and rocket launchers to a rebel group in Colombia that is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

Bout, 41, is being held in a Thai prison while authorities investigate whether he used the country as a base to negotiate the deal with terrorists. The Russian denies any wrongdoing.

"The suspect is being detained on severe charges for alleged engagement with international terrorists and the court said if it grants bail the suspect might escape," Bout's attorney, Lak Nitiwatanavichan, told The Associated Press.

The United States is seeking Bout's extradition, but he is being held in Thailand where officials are investigating whether he used the country as a base to negotiate a weapons deal with terrorists. Suspects can be held up to 84 days in Thailand without being formally charged.


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