Thailand's Appeals Court on Friday decided to extradite Victor Bout, a Russian national and alleged world's premier weapons dealer, to stand trial in the United States on charge of terrorism and selling weapons to Colombian guerrillas within three months.
Thai Criminal Court in August last year rejected the extradition bid by the U.S. saying that it considered the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), to whom Bout allegedly supplied weapons, was a political movement, not a terrorist group as classified by the U.S. government. One year later, however, the Appeals Court turned down the criminal court's ruling.
Under Thai-U.S. treaty, an extradition could not be granted for a political offense.
According to a report from the website of MCOT (the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand ), Philip Crowley, spokesman of U.S. State Department said they had called in Thai Ambassador Don Pramudwinai earlier this week "to emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States."
"We believe that we've presented significant evidence to justify his extradition to the United States," Crowley told reporters on Thursday.
Moreover, a group of U.S. lawmakers had urged the ambassador to make authorities in Bangkok know that rejecting the request would harm ties with Washington and said the kingdom's judicial handling of the case had not been "fair and transparent", Bangkok Post reported.
However, when asked whether the U.S. pressure had influenced the Appeals Court's decision to extradite the suspect, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Saturday that there was no impact and there was nothing better than dealing with the matter straightforwardly.