'Merchant of Death' Denies Arms Charges

Viktor Bout, nabbed in Thailand, says he was just on vacation
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2008 8:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – Viktor Bout, the international arms dealer caught last week in a US sting operation in Thailand, told police he was vacationing when authorities nabbed him for trying to sell weapons to Colombian rebels, Reuters reports. Bout, nicknamed the "Merchant of Death" for business dealings with groups like the Taliban, denied the Thai charge of "seeking or gathering assets for terrorism."

"He said he came here as a tourist," an official said, "but did not say where he planned to visit." Bout, 41, was charged in New York, and the US plans to seek extradition. But Thai officials want to try him locally first, and a court authorized his continued detention yesterday while their investigation continues, the AP says.