UK jails arms dealers to Lanka


A British court has jailed two arms dealers from west London who traded military weapons to countries including Sri Lanka without a UK license. Both men were jailed for seven years each for trading 1,000 bombs from Ukraine to the Sri Lankan Army in 2005 and 3,900 rounds of 30mm armour-piercing incendiary ammunition from Serbia and Montenegro to Sri Lanka between May 6 2006 and February 15 2005, the UK Press association reported.

Gideon Sarig deliberately chose not to apply for the license as he arranged for Uzis, pump-action shotguns, bombs and other weapons to be sent to countries including Sri Lanka and Israel.

Sarig used contacts arranged by his co-defendant Howard Freckleton to sell the military and paramilitary kit to Sri Lanka's military during its "long, protracted and bloody civil war" with the Tamil Tigers, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

Judge James Wadsworth QC told Sarig the jury unanimously found him guilty of trading "large amounts of ammunition for totally war-like, destructive and death-dealing use" without a UK licence.

Both men were jailed for seven years each for trading 1,000 bombs from Ukraine to the Sri Lankan Army in 2005 and 3,900 rounds of 30mm armour-piercing incendiary ammunition from Serbia and Montenegro to Sri Lanka between May 6 2006 and February 15 2005.

Sentencing them immediately after their convictions, the judge said: "You both knew exactly what you were doing. Each of you exercised what is your undoubted right to fight this case to the full, but by doing that you have, of course, removed from me the opportunity of giving you any proper credit in your sentence as a result of regret, remorse, or even acceptance of your guilt."

He also jailed Sarig, a UK national with joint Israeli-British citizenship, for a further two years for trading 391 pump action shotguns from Turkey to Israel, Venezuela and Burkina Faso, and 1,000 anti-riot shields from Turkey to Israel. Sarig, 58, of Lauderale Road, Maida Vale, west London, held his head in his hands before he was taken into custody by the two dock officers.

Turning to Freckleton, the judge said he had an earlier conviction for breaching export licences in 1987 for which he was sentenced to nine months in jail. The judge told him the "earlier conviction for a not entirely dissimilar matter" showed the "determination you had to ignore very important regulation".

Both Sarig and Freckleton, 64, of Mitchell Road, Enfield, north London, showed little emotion as they were jailed. They were both self-employed arms dealers based in London, with Sarig running MIA Trading and Freckleton running Lyon Brandfield in the UK. Sarig also ran Greemount Trading, which was registered in Panama but had no offices there, the court heard.

In all, the jury unanimously found Sarig guilty of 12 counts of being knowingly concerned in the supply, delivery, transfer, acquisition or disposal of controlled goods with intent to evade prohibition thereon. But he was cleared of the deals involving the trade of 1,000 semi-automatic pistols from Turkey to Venezuela, and ammunition from Serbia and Montenegro to Sri Lanka. Freckleton was convicted of three counts of the same charge.



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