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Christopher Tappin to stand trial in November over arms dealing charges
5:23pm Friday 14th September 2012 in Bromley
RETIRED businessman Christopher Tappin who was extradited to the United States on arms dealing charges will go on trial in November, his family have said.
Mr Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted, is set to stand trial in El Paso, Texas, on November 5.
The 65-year-old grandfather, who is on bail in the Lone Star State, denies trying to sell batteries for surface to air missiles to Iran.
In a statement his wife Elaine, of Larch Dene, Farnborough Park, said: "It's taken seven long months to get this date for trial.
"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' 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.
"As a result, we question the need to extradite before a country is trial-ready."
The 62-year-old added: "However we are relieved to now have a date on which we are all focused.
"We trust this will bring an end to this ordeal for us all."
Mr Tappin's extradition came after an investigation which started in 2005 when US agents asked technology providers about buyers who might have raised red flags.
Those customers were then approached by undercover companies set up by government agencies.
Briton Robert Gibson, an associate of Tappin who agreed to co-operate, was jailed for 24 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to export defence articles.
Gibson provided customs agents with around 16,000 computer files and emails indicating he and Tappin had long-standing commercial ties with Iranian customers.
American Robert Caldwell was also found guilty of aiding and abetting the illegal transport of defence articles and served 20 months in prison.