An alleged Russian arms dealer dubbed the “Merchant of Death” denied
before a Thai court he had been to Colombia to supply the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Viktor Bout, who is accused of funneling arms to some of the world’s most violent conflicts, says he is the victim of a set-up.
“I was framed,” the 41-year-old Bout told the court, wearing a dark
orange prison jumpsuit and with shackles on his feet. “I have done no
crime, I have done no terrorist act.”
Bout, arrested in Bangkok
on March 6 after a sting operation conducted by US agents and Thai
police, faces life in prison if sent to the United States and convicted
there on terrorism charges.
The former Soviet air force officer
questioned in court why the United States had not previously sent
arrest warrants to Russia if it wanted to prosecute him.
“They have framed me because the US does not want relations between Thailand and Russia to develop more,” he said.
by his lawyer if he had sold arms to FARC, a leftist movement which has
waged a four-decade battle against the Colombian government, he denied
“It’s not true. I have never met anyone from FARC, I have never been to Colombia,” he said.
Bout has been held at a maximum-security prison outside Bangkok since his arrest.
is accused of being a global gun-runner since the 1990s. He is believed
to have supplied arms to the Taliban militia, Osama bin Laden’s
Al-Qaeda terror network and former Liberian leader Charles Taylor.
nickname “Merchant of Death” was coined by a former British foreign
office minister and also used for a 2007 book on Bout’s alleged