Retrial ordered for German in Libya Arms Deal

26th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 July 2006, MANNHEIM, GERMANY - The trial of a German engineer accused of aiding Libya's now abandoned nuclear programme collapsed Wednesday after four months. The presiding judge said a retrial was necessary because the court felt it did not have all the necessary files from German legal, criminal and customs departments in order to continue with the case. Gotthard Lerch, 63, was charged with violating Germany's arms control and foreign trade laws for supplying technology for gas centrifuges to Moammar

26 July 2006

MANNHEIM, GERMANY - The trial of a German engineer accused of aiding Libya's now abandoned nuclear programme collapsed Wednesday after four months.

The presiding judge said a retrial was necessary because the court felt it did not have all the necessary files from German legal, criminal and customs departments in order to continue with the case.

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

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

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

He was 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 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.

The court did not say whether Lerch should be freed pending the start of new proceedings.

DPA

Subject: German news

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