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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 22:16 GMT 23:16 UK
Terror Briton jailed for 47 years
Hemant Lakhani
Hemant Lakhani said he had been entrapped
Briton Hemant Lakhani has been jailed for 47 years for trying to sell a missile to an undercover FBI agent.

Lakhani was convicted in April of attempting to support terrorism after being caught in a sting.

He was also convicted at the court in Newark, New Jersey, of weapons brokering, money laundering and importing goods using false statements.

The 69-year-old, from Hendon, north London, had denied the charges, saying he was a victim of entrapment.

Lakhani was arrested in August 2003 after offering a shoulder-fired Igla missile to an FBI agent posing as a Somali terrorist.

He was one of three people held after a two-year operation by the FBI, UK and Russian intelligence services.

Judge Katherine Hayden told New Jersey District Court in Newark: "There is overwhelming evidence that Mr Lakhani was prepared to sell missiles to terrorists to shoot down aircraft which could have killed hundreds of human beings.

There was no missile plot until the government created it
Henry Klingeman
Defence lawyer

"He illustrated a single-minded greed and determination to profit from the arms trade."

The judge dismissed three attempts to secure a retrial, saying media interviews with a juror who said she was pressured into finding Lakhani guilty were not sufficient.

The judge said because of the defendant's age and ill health, he should be allowed supervised release and be held in a jail that allowed him to be treated.

Lakhani tearfully pleaded for leniency: "You have no idea what this has done to me.

"My health is no good, I can hardly walk, I do not want to die here in this country.

"Me, my wife and my son are a small unit and I wish to get home as soon as possible. Everybody wants to die in their own motherland. I am completely exhausted."

Entrapment claims

Prosecutor Stuart Rabner said: "This is a man that is so morally bankrupt he doesn't care if his actions cause the deaths of thousands as long as he makes money.

"We see a man who worked for years to break into the arms trade, who volunteered praise for Osama Bin Laden and travelled more than a dozen times to Russia, the Ukraine and the US to make this deal."

But his lawyer, Henry Klingeman, had told the court during the trial: "There was no missile plot until the government created it."

Mr Klingeman described his client as a "joke" who "couldn't finish a deal if his life depended on it".

Lakhani had wanted to make money and was enjoying the attention but was not an illegal arms dealer, Mr Klingeman said.

But prosecutors said there had been no entrapment and said Lakhani had participated with "gusto".

They also claimed he had tried to sell arms to at least three countries.

The trial, which began in January, had to be repeatedly adjourned as Lakhani underwent surgery for severe artery damage, a double hernia and internal bleeding.

Lakhani was born in India, but had lived in the UK for 45 years.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Video of Mr Lakhani displaying a sample missile



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