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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 March, 2005, 03:25 GMT
Missile case 'could be scrapped'
Hemant Lakhani arriving at court
Hemant Lakhani was detained in August 2003
The trial of a Briton accused of trying to sell missiles to terrorists in the US may have to be abandoned due to his ill health, the man's lawyer has said.

Hemant Lakhani, 69, from Hendon, north London, has had three operations since his New Jersey trial began in January.

Mr Lakhani, who denies the charges, is back in hospital and his lawyer said he was not hopeful of a full recovery by the next hearing date of 18 April.

A mistrial could be declared on that date and a new trial ordered.

Medical complications

Mr Lakhani's lawyer, Henry Klingeman, said his client had returned to hospital on Thursday night.

"I would like to be optimistic, but he has had a whole host of problems and given the circumstances it's impossible to tell if he will be right by then," he said.

"He has had a general breakdown of bodily functions."

I feel it is impossible to continue at this time
Hemant Lakhani

Mr Lakhani made a personal appeal to a district court judge on Wednesday asking for a break in the trial of three to four weeks.

"I've had three surgeries in the past four weeks," he said.

"I feel it is impossible to continue at this time."

The trial, which had already been suspended since 1 March due to complications Mr Lakhani had from an emergency double-hernia operation in February, was put back a further month.

It had also been delayed for three weeks in mid-January after he had heart surgery.

Charges denied

Mr Lakhani denies one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and one count of unlawful brokering of foreign defence articles.

He also faces two counts of money laundering, and one count of attempting to import merchandise into the US by means of false statements.

Mr Lakhani was one of three people arrested following an operation by the FBI, UK and Russian intelligence services.

He has been held in jail since his arrest in August 2003, following a two-year surveillance operation.

He could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison if convicted.


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