BANGKOK, March 26 - RAPSI. The Thai court that convened on Monday to reconsider alleged arms trafficker Viktor Bout's case has suspended the hearing for 60 days to allow the defense time to find a new attorney after lawyer Lak Nitivat Vichan died in January.
The court was expected to hear the witnesses for the defense on Monday in regards to Bout's extradition from Thailand to the United States in November 2010. However, the hearing was postponed due to Vichan's death as neither Bout nor his defense attorneys were able to attend.
Vichan, who was involved in Bout's case since he was arrested in March 2008 and led the defense team for most of the last four years, died at the age of 73 on January 8. Vichan contributed to the Thai Appeals Court's decision in 2011 to reconsider Bout's extradition case. The same court held for Bout's extradition after lower courts twice declined U.S. requests.
The court decided to review the case on the grounds that, first, new facts have been uncovered, according to the defense, and, second, Bout's extradition was illegal as he was still under the Thai court's jurisdiction. Under Thai law, the extradition order was not sufficient to extradite Bout as the court also needed to issue a permit for Bout's transfer from prison.
The 45-year-old former Russian military officer, known as the "Merchant of Death," was arrested in Thailand in March 2008 in a sting operation led by U.S. agents and extradited to the United States in November 2010 after spending more than two and a half years in Thai prisons.
On November 2, the jury of the Federal District Court of New York unanimously found Bout guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. officials and citizens, acquiring and intending to use anti-aircraft missiles and providing support to terrorists.