The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 9, 2008 · Page 120
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 120

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Arlington Heights, Illinois
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Sunday, March 9, 2008
Page:
Page 120
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MM 1ft SECTION 1 DAILY HF.RAI.D tAfct^jf * iiAAijufe womior union SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2008 FM Spring is in the trees ASSOCIATED PRESS Visitors photograph cherry blossoms and field mustards Saturday at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo. Hundreds of people came to the park to admire the beauty of the tiny pink petals of the cherry trees. Arms dealer says he's innocent Rmtrn BANGKOK — Suspected international arms dealer Viktor Bout, caught in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand, has told police he was in Bangkok for a holiday and not to transact any weapons business, a police officer said on Saturday. Bout, dubbed the "Merchant of Death" of the clandestine arms trade and picked up from a hotel on Thursday hours after arriving from Moscow, had denied a Thai charge of "seeking or gathering assets for terrorism", Colonel Kittisak Sukhawattanakul said. "He said he came here as a tourist, but did not say where he planned to visit," Kittisak told Reuters. Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, was charged in New York with conspiring to sell weapons worth millions of dollars to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The United States, which has given billions of dollars in military aid to Colombia to fight the Marxist rebels and drug cartels, plans to seek Bout's extradition, but Thai police have said that would have to wait until after he was tried in Thailand. Thai laws require detained foreign terror suspects to be tried locally. The court on Saturday granted police permission to detain Bout, who as finger-printed ASSOCIATED PRESS The United States Is seeking Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout's extradition, but for now he will remain in Thailand, where officials said they were investigating if he used the country as a base to negotiate a weapons deal with terrorists and whether he should be charged there. in front of the media, for further questioning. He was remanded in custody at the infamous "Bangkok Hilton", or Klong Prem prison. Police, who can detain him for three months, expect to finish their investigation in two months before submitting it to prosecutors, said Kittisak, who led Bout to the court escorted by 10 heavily armed commandos. Serbian leader quits Reuters BELGRADE — Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostu- nica resigned on Saturday, dissolving a coalition too divided over the loss of Kosovo to carry on governing. Kostunica said he would recommend an election in May, to allow voters to decide the way forward. Serbia's fragile economy has already been hit by the political uncertainty. The volatile stock exchange has fallen and the dinar currency has lost 6 percent since January. "A government that has no united policy cannot function, of course, and this is the end of the government." Kostunica told a news conference. "That means that we have to give the mandate back to the people." His announcement was the climax to a tortuous political struggle over a fundamental question that now faces Serb voters: should they go on working to join the European Union even though the EU has recognized the secession of their cherished province. Nationalist Kostunica says 'No'. His erstwhile main coalition partner President Boris Tadic says 'Yes'. The strains between them reached breaking point three weeks ago after Kosovo declared indepen- dence and Belgrade was hit by anti-Western rioting. "I have called a government session on March 10 to discuss dissolution of parliament," he said, adding that he would propose scheduling a general election for May 11. Kostunica, 63, took the helm of the 10-month old government last May only after protracted coalition talks with Tadic. "I respect the prime minister's decision that he is no longer able to lead the government of Serbia and when I get the government's decision, I will call an election," said Tadic, the 50-year-old leader of the pro-Western Democratic Party. "Elections are the democratic way to overcome political crises and the people are the only ones who have right to decide which is the way forward for Serbia." Kostunica gave no clue on Saturday to whether his small nationalist party would now seek an alliance with the hard- line nationalist Radical Party — Serbia's biggest — and the smaller Socialist Party of the late autocrat Slobodan Milose- vic. Such a coalition would be likely to adopt an unyielding position on Kosovo. YOUR MONEY GROWS FASTER AT WHEATLAND BANK. Brighten Someones Day Send them One Dozen Long Stem Roses For Only $15. Proceeds benefit the Elgin Lions Eye Care Program. 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