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US: NRI imprisoned for 47 years

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 13, 2005 23:00 IST
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An India-born British businessman has been sentenced to 47 years in prison by an American court for supporting terrorist activities against the United States. Hemant Lakhani, 70, convicted of trying to smuggle a shoulder-fired missile into the US, was sentenced by US District Judge Katharine S Hayden on Monday in Newark.

The sentence virtually guarantees that ailing Lakhani will spend the rest of his life in prison. Lakhani was arrested in August 2003 at a hotel near Newark Liberty International Airport, where he met a government informant posing as a representative of a Somali-based militant group.

Exclusive: Hemant Lakhani speaks out!

Rejecting pleas for leniency, the judge said that in human terms it was not hard to have compassion for the defendant because of his failing health, but the evidence was overwhelming that he intended to provide weapons to a terrorist group bent on shooting down airliners and killing thousands of innocent civilians.

Lakhani, who claimed he was entrapped, was convicted in April after a four-month trial of supporting terrorism, money laundering and importing merchandise illegally.

Lakhani denied he was a threat and broke into tears as he described the hardships his wife and son have endured. His wife Kusum Lakhani, also addressed the court, saying 'we are normal people, we had a good life in London'. She added that they are financially ruined.

Assistant US Attorney Stuart Rabner said Lakhani wasn't thinking of his family when he was caught on tape, discussing terrorist activities against the US. Lakhani's lawyer argued that the government had entrapped his client, who had no criminal record and no history of arms trafficking.

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