Christopher Tappin to stand trial in November on arms charges


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The Independent Online

A retired British businessman who was controversially extradited to the United States on arms dealing charges will go on trial in November, his family has said.

Christopher Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted, will go on trial in El Paso, Texas, on 5 November. The 65-year-old former president of the Kent Golf Union, who is on bail in Texas, denies trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Mr Tappin's wife Elaine, of Orpington, Kent, and his family hoped the trial would "bring an end to this ordeal for us all". She added: "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.

"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."

The case has fuelled the row over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US. Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, said his case highlighted problems with the treaty which were not "readily curable", warning that many Britons felt uneasy faced with America's seemingly harsh and disproportionate sentences.

Interviewed by The Independent this year, Mr Tappin said he would probably have to sell his house to pay for his legal fees. "I was all set to enjoy my retirement with my grandson, my family and playing a bit of golf. And then suddenly this nightmare scenario turns up and I find I have no rights at all in this country," he added.