Weapons parts accused Christopher Tappin's US trial date set

Christopher Tappin
Image caption If found guilty, 65-year-old Christopher Tappin could face up to 35 years in prison

A retired businessman extradited to the US on charges of selling weapons parts to Iran will face trial in November.

Christopher Tappin, 65, from Orpington, south-east London, has been on bail in the US since April after spending two months in a New Mexico jail.

The former president of the Kent Golf Society denies trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

If convicted at his trial in El Paso, Texas, due to start on 5 November, Mr Tappin could face 35 years in jail.

Mr Tappin, who was the former director of Surrey-based Brooklands International Freight Services, has claimed he was the victim of an FBI sting.

Passport surrendered

Speaking in April, he said he believed the batteries were intended for use by the automotive industry.

"I'm not a terrorist. I've never had any connections with terrorism and I'm just appalled that things could come to this sort of stage - especially in my life now, when I'm 65, been retired for four years and enjoying retirement.

"I didn't know these batteries were for Hawk missiles and too, I didn't know they were destined for Iran."

His bail conditions required him to wear an electronic tag, to surrender his passport, and to travel only to El Paso and Houston, where he has been staying with one of his lawyers.

His wife Elaine said his family was relieved a trial date had finally been set for his trial.

'Family divided'

"Despite the much-welcomed support from friends and strangers alike, the emotional, financial and psychological impact of extradition on all the family is hard to overstate," she said.

"Whilst Chris's living conditions are immeasurably better since he was granted bail in April, we remain a family divided by 5,000 miles.

"Health, jobs, family life and cost have considerably limited the opportunity for long distance visits.

"As a result, we question the need to extradite before a country is trial-ready.

"However, we are relieved to now have a date on which we are all focused. We trust this will bring an end to this ordeal for us all."

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