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Monday, February 15, 1999 Published at 17:39 GMT

World: South Asia

Arrests sought in Indian arms case

Arms smuggling case is heard by a Calcutta court

Lawyers in India have demanded the arrest of three foreigners in a court case relating to a mysterious arms smuggling incident in West Bengal.

Prosecution lawyers at a court in Calcutta say the three foreign arms dealers - who are all due to give evidence in the case - should be arrested and charged.

The case revolves around the dropping of a large quantity of weapons from an aircraft over the Purulia area in 1995.

The arms dealers - two Bulgarians and a Briton - have denied any wrongdoing.

Five Latvians and a Briton - a man called Peter Bleach reported to be former intelligence officer - are already in jail in Calcutta facing trial in the case.

But a New Zealand passport holder called Kim Davy - believed to be the mastermind behind the arms drop - is at large.

It is still not clear who the arms were intended for, or who exactly was behind the operation.

Police charged over evidence

The court also admitted a petition that seeks the prosecution of senior Indian federal police officials on charges of furnishing false evidence to the court.

The court directed two officials of the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who are leading investigations into the case, to reply to the charges by 3 March.

A similar notice was also served against the CBI's legal counsel, Sisir Ghosh.

The petition was admitted despite a very strong challenge by the CBI's counsel, who alleged that the Indian lawyer who filed it, Deepak Prahladka, was trying to obstruct the trial.

Arrested informer

Mr Prahladka is demanding the arrest of Peter Scott, director of the British defence export firm, Border Technology Inovations (BTI) and two directors of the Bulgarian arms export company KAS.

He argues that the BTI procured weapons from KAS and supplied them to the New Zealander Mr Davy, knowing fully well that they were meant to be illegally transported somewhere.

Mr Prahladka's petition argues that Mr Bleach actually informed the UK Government about the conspiracy and should therefore be treated as an informer rather than as an accused in the case.

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