U.S. court extends deadline for appeal on Bout extradition

A U.S. court partially satisfied on Thursday an appeal from lawyers defending accused Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout and extended a deadline for submission of appeals on his extradition from Thailand.

On April 19, Bout’s lawyers lodged an appeal on the illegality of their client’s prosecution in the United States.

The defense asked the court to extend the deadline for submitting the appeal by three weeks, while the prosecution argued for a one-week extension. The court postponed the deadline to May 27.

Bout’s lawyer Albert Dayan argued the issue was made more difficult by a bilateral agreement on extradition between the United States and Thailand, by Thai legislation and by allegations that the United States put pressure on the Thai government and local courts to reconsider the decision of the Bangkok Criminal Court, which rejected in August 2009 the U.S. extradition request.

Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Wechachiwa, said on Tuesday that neither he nor his Cabinet made the decision to extradite Bout to the United States.

Earlier on Thursday, New York prosecutors issued a memorandum in which they agreed not to refer to Bout as “the Merchant of Death.”

The announcement came as a response to the appeal by Bout’s defense. Among many other provisions, the 50-page document asks the court to end Bout’s case as the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction to consider criminal cases over the offenses that have been committed outside the United States.

In their 60-page response to the appeal, prosecutors said they were ready to avoid labeling Bout as “the Merchant of Death” as a compromise, but demanded the court turn down all other requests by the defense.

Bout, 44, is being held in a New York prison while he awaits trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in October on charges including conspiring to supply arms to terrorist groups and conspiring to kill U.S. nationals. He denies all the charges against him.

The alleged arms dealer could face anything from 25 years to life in prison if convicted. The trial is scheduled for October 11.

MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti) 

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