India freezes up bilateral co-op with Denmark

Updated: 2011-08-17 10:41


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COPENHAGEN - Denmark's foreign minister confirmed Tuesday that India has decided to freeze all cooperation with Denmark following a weapons smuggling case involving a Danish national.

"The Danish ambassador in New Delhi has been told that all cooperation with Denmark is frozen, " Lene Espersen told Danish news agency Ritzau.

A report carried Tuesday by Indian daily the Indian Express said India's Ministry of Finance has said that all projects and discussions with Denmark will now require "prior consultation" with its foreign ministry, Ritzau added.

Espersen confirmed to Ritzau that the boycott stems from Denmark's failure to secure the extradition of Niels Holck, a Danish national, who is responsible for airlifting weapons to a rebel group in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, in 1995.

India had asked Denmark to extradite 49-year-old Holck, who is also known to Indian authorities by the name Kim Davy, to face trial in India.

However, the plea was overturned first by a Danish city court and then by the High Court in June 2011.

The case was dismissed on the grounds that Holck would risk torture or other inhumane treatment in an Indian prison.

Denmark's public prosecutor subsequently decided that it would be futile to refer the case to the country's Supreme Court.

"It is a clearly negative development where the Indians have signalled they have no interest in going forward together," Espersen told Ritzau.

Espersen was particularly concerned as India is "an extremely important partner" for Denmark.

In fact, India is an important export market for Danish goods, especially in the fields of green technology, treatment of waste water, equipment for airports and agriculture, she said.

However, there seems not much that the Danish government can do in the matter. "But I neither can nor will involve myself in the Danish courts'decision, which we must accept," Espersen told Ritzau.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India's intelligence services agency, has told Indian media that it is willing to cross-examine Holck via video-link from Copenhagen, capital of Denmark.

However, Denmark hasn't received a formal request to re-open the case using video-link, according to Ritzau.

Holck is wanted by the CBI in connection with the weapons smuggling case, where an AN-26 cargo plane dropped a cache of arms and ammunition in West Bengal's Purulia district on December 17, 1995.

The consignment included hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, anti-tank grenades, rocket launchers, pistols and some 25,000 rounds of ammunition.

The crew of the aircraft, which included five Latvians and one British national named Peter Bleach, were arrested, while Holck managed to escape.

The Latvians were released in 2000 following a request by Russian authorities. Bleach was granted a presidential pardon in 2004 following requests by the British government.

According to Bleach, Holck had led the operation. The cargo plane took off from Gatwick Airport near London with four tons of weapons.

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