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BBC's Daniel Lak in Calcutta
"Over four years since the accused were arrested in Bombay"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 January, 2000, 13:55 GMT
India arms trial verdict postponed

One of the Latvian pilots being taken to court


A court in Calcutta has unexpectedly delayed by two weeks its verdict in a long-running case involving seven men accused of smuggling arms into India.

The men - five Latvians, Briton Peter Bleach and an Indian national - were arrested five years ago in Bombay, after a large shipment of arms was dropped from a plane over West Bengal.

The judge looked set to announce his verdict in the case, but an activist who has been advising Mr Bleach, launched last-minute challenges to evidence in procedure.


Peter Bleach: Not unhappy with the delay

The five are accused of making war on India by attempting to supply arms to a controversial Hindu sect.

The charges against them carry a minimum sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Mr Bleach said outside the court he was not unhappy with the developments and he would appeal if finally convicted.

But his Latvian co-defendants appeared taken aback at the notion of another two weeks in Calcutta's Presidency jail.

Mr Bleach has always maintained that he is the victim of a cover-up by Indian intelligence agencies and he had always kept British intelligence informed about the arms deal.

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See also:
15 Feb 99 |  South Asia
Arrests sought in Indian arms case

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