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Missile aid case

New Delhi, Dec. 25: A technical director of NEC Engineers Private Limited, accused of assisting Iraq in making their missiles and chemical weapons, has been denied anticipatory bail by a Delhi court.

The bail was rejected by additional sessions judge Manju Goel on the grounds that R.C.P. Choudhary’s custody was necessary for interrogation. The passport of Choudhary was revoked by the Centre on July 30 to force him back to India, but he reportedly continues to be in the US.

Choudhary has said he is not involved in the daily functioning of the company and that he had no inkling of the nature and the destination of goods exported.

The court relied on NEC deputy manager R. Annakumar’s statement to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which is probing the case. Annakumar told the DRI that Choudhary had knowledge about the deal.

“Prima facie, the applicant did not merely work as a technical hand but has gone into even the commercial side and overseen the preparation of documents required for export,” the court observed.

Annakumar had also disclosed that the company gave false information to the customs about the goods and its destination on the directions of Choudhary and another person called Shailendra Kumar.

The goods mentioned in the export document as industrial cells with titanium and platinum were actually electrolysis cells. The cells were for manufacturing sodium chloride and sodium perchlorate at Al-Rashid in Iraq. Their destination, however, was shown as the UAE in declaration records.

According to Annakumar’s disclosure, the polymer search drums exported by the company were actually monel search drums, which were procured from a Chennai firm and were meant for Iraq.

The Centre had issued four circulars between May 9, 2001, and May 29 this year, asking the Customs department and the Directorate of Central Excise and Revenue Intelligence not to allow NEC to send its consignment to Iraq, the UAE and Jordan.

The circular said: “NEC may be actively assisting Iraqi missiles and chemical weapons programme by exporting and providing sensitive equipment, technologies and technical know-how.”

The DRI had charged that NEC was exporting spherical aluminium powder titanium vessels polymer (monel search drums) to Iraq in violation of export regulations.

Earlier, Chaudhary had obtained exemption from personally appearing in court.

Opposing Chaudhary’s bail plea today, DRI counsel Satish Agarwal said the accused had not returned to India despite an undertaking given to the court to return by October 20.

The US state department had earlier charged NEC with helping Iraq in the construction of a plant at Al-Mamoum for indigenously producing ammonium perchlorate, a key ingredient in making solid rocket propellant motors for missiles and other delivery vehicles.

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