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Thailand court refuses extradition to US of suspected Russian arms dealer

[JURIST] The Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday refused to extradite a suspected Russian arms trafficker to the US to face prosecution for supplying weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) [CFR backgrounder]. In denying the extradition request [AFP report], Judge Jitakorn Patanasiri said that the accusations made against Viktor Bout [BBC profile] by the US were not cognizable under Thai law. The court called the conflict between FARC and the Colombian government political, noted that Thailand does not recognize FARC as a terrorist group, and determined that it lacks authority to penalize a foreign defendant for actions committed abroad. James Entwistle [official profile], the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Bangkok, said that the US was disappointed by the decision because and that the US supports [Reuters report] a planned appeal by Thai prosecutors.

Last month, a Russian organized crime leader and suspected weapons trafficker Semyon Mogilevich [FBI profile], who is wanted by the US, was released [JURIST report] by a Russian court. Mogilevich is unlikely to stand trial on US racketeering, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering charges, as the US and Russia do not have an extradition treaty. In March, Armenian international arms dealer Artur Solomonyan was sentenced to 22 years in prison [JURIST report] for arranging to sell shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and other Russian-made weaponry to a confidential informant posing as an al Qaeda operative.

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