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Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Arms dealer's appeal rejected
Peter Bleach and prison officers
Peter Bleach: Lost his appeal for freedom
A Beritish arms dealer will remain in an Indian jail after the country's government rejected his bid for freedom.

Peter Bleach had appealed to be released after serving more than five years in a Calcutta prison for his part in dropping a huge consignment of weapons from an aircraft over the Purulia district of West Bengal state in December 1995.

However the Indian Interior Minister LK Advani has thrown out his plea.

The Indian Government believes his release may damage the case against Kim Davy, the main person accused in the case who is still at large.

Peter Bleach
Bleach has spent more than five years in jail
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has spoken to Mr Advani about the decision.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The foreign secretary has discussed the matter with Mr Advani and said he is disappointed about the decision.

"We still believe he should be released and we are considering what action we can now take."

Bleach, who hails from North Yorkshire, was jailed along with five Russian aircrew for taking part in the arms drop.

Granted remission

But, after the intervention of the Russian Government, the other men were granted remission on the remainder of their life sentences by President Narayanan.

The arms and ammunition were dropped over West Bengal in 1995.

Later the plane, with Bleach and the others on board, was intercepted and forced to land in Bombay.

The destination of the arms remains unclear to this day.

Key conspirator

At the trial, where all six pleaded their innocence, the prosecution said that Bleach was the key conspirator.

According to the Press Trust of India, Mr Advani said the Russians were pardoned because they had no direct contact with Mr Davy, who is regarded as the main accused in the conspiracy.

Bleach's release at this stage is "out of the question" as he was part of the conspiracy with Davy, the news agency quoted Mr Advani as saying.

See also:

10 Jul 01 | UK
Arms dealer's release bid
30 Mar 01 | South Asia
Fresh appeal for British arms dealer
05 Mar 01 | South Asia
Jailed Briton's hunger strike threat
08 Dec 00 | South Asia
Plea to India over jailed Briton
22 Jul 00 | South Asia
India pardons arms drop crew
24 Apr 00 | South Asia
India arms case reopened
02 Feb 00 | South Asia
Briton gets life in India arms case
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