deal with the US regarding Thaksin.
BANGKOK – Angered by what she describes as “ a campaign of demonisation” against her husband, the alleged arms trafficker Viktor Bout, Alla Bout today suggested legal action is possible against “those who have caused terrible damage to my husband’s image”.
She also suggested that Thailand and the US may have cut a deal linking her husband’s extradition with US assistance regarding former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Asked about her view that the United States should punish those who published or made allegations against Viktor Bout, she elaborated that “I have advised my husband that he should take legal action against some of those who have published unfounded allegations”, adding that “action should definitely be taken against those who created the movie Lord of War”.
The film stars Nicolas Cage as Yuri Orlov, a Ukrainian gun runner apparently modelled on Mr Bout, with other characters resembling former Liberian President Charles Taylor and his son Chuck. Charles Taylor is currently on trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague, for war crimes allegedly perpetrated during the 1990’s civil war in Sierra Leone, is thought to be beneficiary of of Mr Bout’s alleged arms cargo business.
Viktor Bout was extradited to the United States on November 16. He spent almost three years in jail in Thailand, after his arrest in a joint US-Thai sting operation in Bangkok in March 2008. The extradition was carried out without the advance knowledge of Mrs Bout or of the Russian Embassy in Thailand, according to both parties.
Alla Bout nevertheless maintained a cheery disposition when meeting the Thailand-based media “for the last time”, as she put it today, while handing out copies of a Russian Embassy press statement to the gathered journalists. “There won’t be enough of these”, she lamented, before launching into a scathing attack on the Thai Government and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, saying that the Democrat Party-led Thai Government is “subservient to the United States”.
Mrs Bout is planning to return to Moscow, where she will apply for a US visa before joining her husband in New York, where he detained awaiting trial. She said that “however absurd it may seem, we will be pressing the Thai Government to act to get the United States to return Viktor to Thailand”, as the extradition contravened Thai law, according to Bout’s lawyers.
She appealed to Americans to ensure that her husband receives a fair trial in New York, but hinted that comments by US Attorney Preet Bharara may have prejudiced the proceedings. “The so-called Merchant of Death is now a federal inmate,” Bharara said after Bout arrived in New York to face charges he offered to sell millions of dollars of weapons the FARC, a Colombian militia that the United States regards as a terrorist group. “No one should ever think he can plot to kill Americans with impunity,” Bharara added
Ironically, as Mrs Bout made her entrance to Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondent’s Club, an al-Jazeera interview with Jean-Pierre Bemba ran in the background. Bemba, a former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes at the International Criminal Court, and is alleged to have received weapons via Bout’s aircraft. Bout previously described Bemba as a “personal friend”, saying that he brought the former rebel leader spare helicopter parts as part of his air cargo deliveries to the DRC.
In recent months the Viktor Bout case became entwined with Thailand’s domestic politics. Mrs Bout said today that “there might have been some political offer from America to Thailand”, when asked about links between Viktor Bout’s case and former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. On November 18, Peua Thai MP Surapong Towichakchaikul said that the extradition may have been approved by the Thai Government, in the hope the United States will arrest and extradite Thaksin, who is facing a two year jail term for corruption charges in Thailand.
Thaksin has visited Russia at least twice during 2010, prompting Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya to criticise Moscow back on April 13, at the height of the two-month red shirt protest in Bangkok, for giving a visa to a man described by Kasit as “a bloody terrorist”. At a previous news conference in August, Mrs Bout said that Democrat Party MP Sirichoke Sopha visited her husband in jail, seeking to link Thaksin to arms trafficking into Thailand.Show