German on trial for supplying nuclear arms parts to Libya

17th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 March 2006, MANNHEIM, GERMANY - A German engineer went on trial Friday, accused of aiding Libya's now abandoned nuclear programme.

17 March 2006

MANNHEIM, GERMANY - A German engineer went on trial Friday, accused of aiding Libya's now abandoned nuclear programme.

Gotthard Lerch, 63, is charged with violating Germany's arms control and foreign trade laws for supplying technology for gas centrifuges to Moammar Gaddafi's regime.

Gas centrifuges can be used to enrich uranium for fuel in civilian nuclear programmes or to make atomic weapons.

Lerch, who denies the charges, is believed by prosecutors to be part of a network around Abdul Qadir Khadam, known as the father of the Pakistan atomic bomb.

He is alleged to have worked for the Libyans at the request of Khadam and to have organised the purchase of parts for the centrifuges and overseen their assembly.

Prosecutors said he used intermediaries in Malaysia and South Africa to ship the parts to Libya. A freighter with centrifuge parts was found on a ship bound for the North African country in October 2003.

Two months later, Libya admitted to a clandestine nuclear programme, but agreed to abandon it in return for the lifting of UN sanctions.

Lerch, who has been in detention since July 2005, is reported to have earned 34 million dollars from the deal.

The first day of trial was interrupted several times after defence lawyers claimed they had been not given enough time to examine the evidence against their client and accused the court's three judges of working hand-in-hand with German intelligence services.

Proceedings were set to resume March 23.

DPA

Subject: German news

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