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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April, 2005, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
Rocket case Briton to stay silent
Hemant Lakhani arriving at court
Hemant Lakhani was detained in August 2003
A Briton accused of trying to sell missiles to terrorists in the US has decided not to testify in his own defence, a court has been told.

Hemant Lakhani, 69, from north London, was arrested after presenting a sample shoulder-fired missile to an FBI agent posing as a Somalian terrorist.

He allegedly said the rockets could shoot up to 15 aeroplanes at once.

His lawyer told New Jersey District Court he had decided not to take the stand after taking confidential advice.

Based on the advice he has been given, [Mr Lakhani] has decided... not to take the witness stand in his own defence in this case
Lawyer Henry Klingeman

"Mr Lakhani understands that, under the US constitution, he has an absolute right to remain silent," Henry Klingeman said.

"Based on the advice he has been given, he has decided knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily not to take the witness stand in his own defence in this case."

Mr Lakhani, who denies the charges, was deemed fit enough to attend court this week after having three operations since his trial began on 4 January.

The court has been in session for just 15 days since then.

Request dismissed

The trial has been repeatedly adjourned as Mr Lakhani underwent emergency surgery for severe artery damage, a double hernia and internal bleeding.

On Monday, Mr Klingeman sought to delay the trial further, claiming Mr Lakhani continued to suffer from swollen legs and dizziness.

The request was dismissed after complaints from the prosecution.

Mr Klingeman told the court his client was an educated man who had decided not to testify after lengthy discussions with his legal team.

Laundering charge

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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