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Tuesday, 21 August, 2001, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Court rejects plea by arms dealer
Peter Bleach and prison officers
Peter Bleach: Lost his appeal for freedom
A British arms dealer has had his latest bid for freedom turned down by the Supreme Court in India.

Peter Bleach, from North Yorkshire, had put forward a remission petition to have his life sentence reduced.

He has already served five years in jail and it was hoped the court would cut his prison term sufficiently to see him released.

Bleach was convicted for his part in dropping a huge consignment of weapons from an aircraft over the Purulia district of West Bengal state in December 1995.

Written explanation

Now Mr Bleach's lawyer is set to ask for a written explanation why his client has not been released, although Russians convicted with him have been.

Peter Bleach
Bleach has spent more than five years in jail

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The Supreme Court has refused the remission petition, which Mr Bleach had launched looking for a cut in his sentence.

"But the court said they rejected the plea on the grounds that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs had rejected this petition.

"He can can now ask the Supreme Court for a Speaking Order - which is a written explanation putting forward the reason for the court's decision."

Home Secretary Jack Straw recently asked Indian Home Minister Advani to reduce Mr Bleach's sentence in line with his companions.

Bleach was jailed along with five Russian aircrew for taking part in the arms drop.

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

Forced landing

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.

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

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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