Thursday, November 1, 2012



Note: far more deadly than any AK or AR pop gun. Considering that,
once again a very light sentence.

1 November 2012 Last updated at 15:18 ET

A retired London businessman has pleaded guilty in a US court to
selling weapons parts to Iran.

Christopher Tappin, 66, made the plea at a court in El Paso, Texas,
in an agreement with US prosecutors.

He is due to be sentenced on 9 January for selling surface-to-air
missile parts to Iran.
His guilty plea calls for a 33-month sentence which prosecutors have
said they would not oppose him serving in the UK.

'Beginning of process'
Speaking last week, his wife Elaine, 62, said "however upsetting" the
plea deal was, it marked the beginning of the process to get him home.

Mrs Tappin, who has chronic Churg-Strauss syndrome, said: "From the
moment Chris was put on a plane all we ever wanted was his swift and
safe return.
"However upsetting, this is the beginning of that process."

Tappin, of Orpington, south-east London, has been on bail since being
extradited to the US in February.

The former president of the Kent Golf Union and former director of
Surrey-based Brooklands International Freight Services previously
denied attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles that
were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands, saying
he was the victim of an FBI sting.

He had pleaded not guilty but changed his plea earlier in an
agreement with US prosecutors.

Tappin had faced up to 35 years in jail.

The case followed an investigation, which began in 2005 when US
agents asked technology providers about buyers who might have raised
red flags.

Those customers were then approached by undercover companies set up
by government agencies.

'Jury and executioner'
Briton Robert Gibson, an associate of Tappin who agreed to co-
operate, was jailed for 24 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy
to export defence articles.

Gibson provided customs agents with about 16,000 computer files and
emails indicating that he and Tappin had long-standing commercial
ties with Iranian customers.

American Robert Caldwell was also found guilty of aiding and abetting
the illegal transport of defence articles and served 20 months in

Plea bargaining is common in the US, with defendants often able to
secure a more lenient sentence if they admit an offence and co-
operate with prosecutors, rather than contest the charges in a trial.

But other extradited Britons - including so-called NatWest Three
banker David Bermingham, who was jailed for 37 months over an Enron-
related fraud in a plea deal four years ago - have claimed the system
empowers prosecutors as "judge, jury and executioner".

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