“Merchant of Death” Nabbed in Thailand

The Real Lord of War got caugh in Thailand!!!!

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“Merchant of Death” Nabbed in Thailand

Russian Arms Dealer Linked to Colombian Rebels Arrested in Thailand

A suspected Russian arms dealer dubbed the “Merchant of Death” was arrested Thursday in Bangkok on allegations that he supplied Colombian rebels with arms and explosives, Thai police said. Police Lt. Gen. Pongpat Chayapan, head of the Crime Suppression Bureau, said Viktor Bout was arrested in a hotel in the capital, Bangkok, on a warrant issued by a Thai court following a monthlong manhunt.

The warrant came out of an earlier one issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. A U.S. Embassy spokesman congratulated Thai police for the arrest but could not provide details about the role Americans played in it. Bout has long been accused of breaking U.N. embargoes by supplying weapons to conflicts in Africa, and is the subject of financial sanctions by the United States and a U.N. travel ban. Police Col. Petcharat Sengchai told reporters that Bout was wanted on charges of “procuring weapons and explosives for Colombian rebels” known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The leftist FARC has been fighting Colombia’s government for more than four decades, and funds itself largely through the cocaine trade and kidnapping for ransom. Handcuffed and wearing an orange polo shirt, the burly, 41-year-old Bout was presented briefly to reporters at Thai police headquarters. He stared blankly at the bank of television cameras but did not make any comment. Although Bout has been investigated by police in several countries, he has never been prosecuted for arms dealing. He has been accused of trafficking weapons through a series of front companies to war-wracked Central and West Africa since the early 1990s. U.N. reports say he set up a network of more than 50 aircraft around the world, owned by small, tightly controlled companies including Bukavu

Aviation Transport, Business Air Services and Great Lakes Business Co. Trade experts have said illicit diamond trading was likely one source of funds for his smuggled arms shipments. A 2007 book about Bout,

“Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible,” says a plane in Bout’s fleet made several airdrops of weapons to FARC guerrillas between December 1998 and April 1999.

The book, by journalists Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun, says the flights dropped about 10,000 weapons to the rebels, “enabling them to greatly enhance their military capabilities.”

A 2005 report by the human rights group Amnesty International described Bout as “the most prominent foreign businessman” involved in trafficking arms to U.N.-embargoed destinations in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and other countries.

The report implicated Bout in transferring “very large quantities of arms” from Ukraine that were delivered to Uganda via Tanzania aboard a Greek-registered cargo ship. A U.N. travel ban imposed on Bout that was still current as of last November said he supported former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s regime in efforts to destabilize Sierra Leone and gain illicit access to diamonds.

In October 2006, President Bush issued an executive order freezing the assets of Bout and several associates and warlords in Congo and barring Americans from doing business with them. They were accused of violating international laws involving targeting of children or violating a ban on sales of military equipment to Congo. The U.N. imposed an arms embargo in 2003 on the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri regions of eastern Congo, and also on groups that were not part of that year’s peace agreement for the region. Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Strategies and Technologies, described Bout as a rich “adventurist, one of these guys who emerged at the start of the 1990s and started pumping weapons from the former Soviet Union into Africa.”

“He is not in the same league as people who make and trade weapons,” he said. “He was influential and rich, but only in these vacated markets where countries were under embargo and state intermediaries didn’t dare to sell.” Bout was widely believed to be a model for the arms dealer portrayed by Nicholas Cage in the 2005 movie “Lord of War.” —— Associated Press reporters Ambika Ahuja in Bangkok and Peter Leonard in Moscow contributed to this report



His profile. Thank bbc.co.uk

Profile: Viktor Bout

Viktor Bout

Mr Bout spotted an opportunity after the USSR’s collapse

Russian businessman Viktor Bout – currently in custody in Thailand and wanted in the US – is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading arms smugglers.A former Soviet officer, he launched into a new career after the fall of the USSR, reportedly selling weapons to countries under UN embargo.

According to a 2007 book – Merchant of Death, by security experts Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun – Mr Bout built up his business using military planes left on the airfields of the collapsing Soviet empire in the early 1990s.

These sturdy Antonovs and Ilyushins – along with their crews – were up for sale and easier to maintain than US aircraft.

They were perfect for delivering goods to bumpy wartime airstrips around the world.

Guns and diamonds

Mr Bout is said have begun channelling weapons through a series of front companies to war-torn parts of Africa.

The UN has exposed Bout as the centre of a spider’s web of shady arms dealers, diamond brokers and other operatives sustaining the wars
Peter Hain,
Former UK minister

According to the UN, he supported efforts by former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s “to destabilise Sierra Leone and gain illicit access to diamonds”.

Mr Bout’s early clients also included several Afghan groups during the chaos that preceded the victory of the Taleban in 1995, media reports claim.

Then Mr Bout lived in Belgium, until his trade was highlighted in the local media, prompting the Brussels authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest.

He is then said to have relocated to the United Arab Emirates.

US and UN reports say he extended his operations to many African hotspots, including Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic of Congo, the Congo Republic and Sudan.

Colombian connection

The nickname “merchant of death” was coined by British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain.

After reading a 2003 report about him, Mr Hain said: “Bout is the leading merchant of death who is the principal conduit for planes and supply routes that take arms… from east Europe, principally Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine to Liberia and Angola.

“The UN has exposed Bout as the centre of a spider’s web of shady arms dealers, diamond brokers and other operatives, sustaining the wars.”

Mr Bout was arrested in Bangkok at the behest of the US, in connection with alleged weapons sales to Colombia’s Farc rebels.

According to Mr Farah and Mr Braun, in the late 1990s he arranged deliveries of weapons to the guerrillas that enabled them “to greatly enhance their military capabilities”.

Their book also says that at one point, Mr Bout had a palatial residence in South Africa – only to have it attacked in an apparent gangland fallout.

In October 2006, US President George W Bush issued an executive order freezing his assets and barring Americans from dealing with him.

Despite the many allegations against him, the arms dealer has never been prosecuted.



One Response to “Merchant of Death” Nabbed in Thailand

  1. Hi there,

    I live in Thailand and find it interesting that very little about this man has appeared in the media here. No doubt, as in the movie version, heโ€™s doing deals to facilitate his release.

    As I say in my bog and elsewhere, it was only a matter of time before the Word of Law caught up with the Lord of War and I personally find it hard to find a modicum of pity for such an evil merchant of death.

    Urban Crazy Man

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