An appeals court in Thailand ruled Friday to extradite suspected Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout to the United States, effectively ending a more than decade-long chase for the man dubbed "The Merchant of Death."
The decision overturns a lower court's rejection of the U.S. extradition request. The court said Bout must be extradited within three months or would be free to return to Russia.
Bout, a 43-year-old former Soviet air force officer, is reputed to be one of the world's most prolific arms dealers. He has allegedly supplied weapons that fueled civil wars in South America, the Middle East and Africa, with clients including Liberia's Charles Taylor and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and both sides of the civil war in Angola.
Shackled in leg irons, Bout cried after the verdict was read and hugged his wife and daughter.
"This is the most unfair decision possible," his wife told reporters, speaking in Russian through a translator. "It is known the world over that this is a political case."