- - Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BERLIN — Three Swiss engineers accused of participating in a global nuclear smuggling ring are set to avoid further prison time, in part because they helped the CIA bust the network that was supplying Libya’s atomic weapons program.

Prosecution documents released Tuesday outline a plea bargain under which Urs Tinner, 46; his brother Marco, 43; and their 74-year-old father, Friedrich, would accept the charges against them in return for prison terms that are shorter than the time they have already spent in investigative custody.

The documents also shed light on the U.S. intelligence agency’s successful operation to destroy the nuclear smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

Friedrich Tinner had longstanding contacts to Mr. Khan dating back to 1975, according to Swiss prosecutors.

The two continued to do business — with Friedrich Tinner supplying equipment and expertise for uranium enrichment to Mr. Khan — even after Pakistan detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1998.

Mr. Khan built up an international network selling equipment to countries with nuclear weapons ambitions, including Libya and Iran.

Prosecutors said all three of the accused were involved in the smuggling ring and supplied key equipment and blueprints for the production of gas centrifuges that are needed to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels.


China hints at leniency for former cop

CHENGDU — China signaled Tuesday it will be lenient with a former police chief enmeshed in a political scandal roiling the country’s leadership, saying he cooperated with investigators who brought down a top Chinese politician’s wife for the murder of a British businessman.

Tuesday’s conclusion of Wang Lijun’s trial brings Chinese leaders a step closer to resolving a scandal that exposed seamy infighting and buffeted a delicate transfer of power to new leaders expected to take place in coming weeks.

Mr. Wang sparked the turbulent affair with a dramatic flight to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February, where he divulged information about the murder, resulting in the removal of his boss, Bo Xilai, once a political high-flier vying for a top job.

Mr. Wang faces charges of defection, bending the law for personal gain, bribery and abuse of power, most stemming from his consulate escapade and initial cover-up of the murder.

In summarizing the two-day trial, a spokesman for the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu city said prosecutors noted that Mr. Wang’s surrender to authorities and ultimate cooperation may merit lighter punishment.

The crimes he faces are generally punishable by up to 10 years in prison, with a 20-year maximum for consecutive sentences, though sentencing guidelines allow for life imprisonment or the death penalty in egregious cases.

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