Integrity Legal

21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.


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