Today’s Bangkok Post: Bout says MP asked how to take down Thaksin plane:
Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has confirmed that Sirichoke Sopha, a close aide to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, met him to make inquiries into how ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s plane could be brought down.
He also alleged that the MP made inquiries into whether Thaksin was involved in arms smuggling.
Mr Bout’s wife, Alla, read his statement yesterday during a press conference in Bangkok in which he proclaimed his innocence and elaborated on his discussions with Mr Sirichoke on April 15 at Bang Kwang Central Prison.
Mr Bout said no tape recording had been made of the conversation.
He claimed Mr Sirichoke asked him whether Thaksin had paid to have an aircraft smuggle arms from North Korea to Sri Lanka in December of last year, before the shipment was seized in Thailand.
Mr Sirichoke quoted a foreign news report saying that Thaksin had flown to Sri Lanka one week before the seizure.
Mr Bout alleged that Mr Sirichoke asked him whether Thaksin might have bought the weapons to arm his red shirt supporters.
Mr Bout said he told the MP that he had no knowledge of such a plan and that, “I would not like to fantasise”.
Mr Bout said Mr Sirichoke showed him a picture of a private jet and said it belonged to Thaksin. “He asked me how to intercept Thaksin’s plane,” he said.
In the statement, read in Mr Bout’s native Russian, the term intercept was meant in the sense to “bring down”.
“I told him that I could not teach him this,” Mr Bout said.
Mr Sirichoke also allegedly asked Mr Bout about the state of Thaksin’s health and why other countries were uncooperative in helping to arrest and extradite the former prime minister to Thailand.