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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Alleged arms smuggler testifies in Thailand

BANGKOK, Thailand — Alleged arms smuggler Viktor Bout has taken the witness stand for the first time at a court in Bangkok.

The United States is seeking the extradition of the 41-year-old Russian, who has been dubbed "The Merchant of Death."

With the testimony under way Monday, Bout defended himself against charges that he conspired to arm Colombian rebels.

Bout told the court, "I didn't do anything wrong in Thailand. I have never been to Colombia or the United States."

Bout was arrested in Bangkok in March after a sting operation that involved U.S. agents posing as Colombian rebels.

Bout has denied involvement in illicit activities.

He was purportedly the model for the arms dealer portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 movie "Lord of War." - AP

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