Danish officials in India to discuss gunrunner
Danish officials are in India today to discuss the case of Niels Holck, a Danish citizen who Indian officials want to see tried for smuggling weapons in 1995.
According to multiple Indian news outlets, six high-level Danish representatives are in New Delhi to discuss the possible extradition of Holck, who is known in India by his alias Kim Davy.
Denmark has resisted extraditing Holck, claiming that he could face torture in an Indian prison. This has led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries, with India announcing in late 2011 that it was "freezing" relations with Denmark. Just last month, India tightened its visa rules for Danish tourists, although the Indian Embassy in Copenhagen denied that the change had anything to do with the Holck case.
The Times of India reports that the Danish delegation, led by Jens-Christian Bülow, the permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, is meeting with officials from India's Central Bureau of Investigation, as well as representatives from the Indian ministries of law and external affairs.
According to the Deccan Herald, the two sides are negotiating a "middle path" in which Holck could face trial in India but imprisonment in Denmark if convicted. They will also reportedly explore the notion of trying Holck in the Indian Embassy, something which India has already said it would accept. Holck himself has also previously agreed to stand trial on neutral ground.
A legal back-and-forth around the Holck case has been ongoing since 2010, when the Danish government agreed to extradite the admitted gunrunner. Holck successfully challenged that decision in Hillerød City Court, and the Eastern High Court in July 2011 upheld the lower court's verdict. When Denmark refused to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court, Indian officials cried foul and froze relations.
In the 1995 incident at the heart of the matter, Holck was behind the 'Perulia arms drop' in which a cache of weapons were air-dropped into West Bengal. The weapons were thought to be intended for a spiritual group called the Ananda Marga, of which Holck was a member. Holck escaped capture, but six of his accomplices – five Latvians and a British national – were arrested and sentenced. Most have since been pardoned or released.
Holck has maintained that he and his accomplices acted in self-defence according to the UN convention of human rights, and that they acted with the support of both the Indian and British governments.