The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bleach faces Davy hurdle

New Delhi, June 25: India’s efforts to bring Kim Davy, the mastermind of the 1995 Purulia arms-drop, to book may come in the way of an early release for Briton Peter Bleach, languishing in a Calcutta jail for over seven years.

During his recent visit to the United Kingdom, deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani had assured Prime Minister Tony Blair he would ask law minister Arun Jaitley to review the case.

Advani later said that while the government was not averse to releasing Bleach, there were legal complications which could lead to the case falling through. He did not elaborate.

Jaitley is at present in China with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Danish national Davy escaped from Mumbai airport in 1995 and India has been on the lookout for him ever since. A little over a year ago, Davy resurfaced in Denmark.

Legal complications have arisen because Denmark does not allow its citizens to be extradited and tried for criminal offences in another country, unless the accused is willing to submit to this.

Realising it is impossible to get Davy extradited, Indian officials are hoping to get Denmark to try him in his homeland. Negotiations are on and Delhi is hopeful Denmark will try him for conspiracy against India.

If, in the meanwhile, Bleach is pardoned, the case for trying Davy will weaken. India has in any case let off the five Latvian crew holding Russian passports at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request. The Latvians spent one-and-a-half years in jail.

If Bleach is also let off, the year-long negotiations between India and Denmark may fall through.

Yet, India is ready to release Bleach, who has been a model prisoner, since he has already spent seven-and-a-half years in prison. The Englishman has contracted tuberculosis in jail and his aged mother has written to the President recently urging him to pardon Bleach.

Delhi is mindful that a Calcutta High Court directive can not be flouted lest it attract contempt of court charges. The court had asked the government to bring the guilty to book. Releasing Bleach would mean the Centre has pardoned everyone it had arrested without resolving the case. “All these aspects have to be carefully studied,” a senior official said.

Britain has alleged that Bleach has been discriminated against. British diplomats in Delhi say Bleach and the Latvians were held on similar conspiracy charges.

But highly-placed government sources refute this, saying Davy and Bleach were the “principle conspirators” while the Latvians were the “hired help”.

When Bleach appealed against the alleged discrimination against him, a high court judge dismissed his plea, saying Davy and the Briton were the key conspirators.

The Centre may want to release Bleach, but it could take a long time to sort out legal problems.

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