The Hillerød Court has overturned a Justice Ministry decision to extradite
Niels Holck, a Dane who has admitted to air-dropping weapons in India, to
The judge said that there was a single reason for the decision not to accept
the Justice Ministry’s decision to extradite Holck – the risk of “rough
The Hillerød decision was immediately appealed by the prosecution.
Denmark’s Justice Ministry decided in April this year that the 48-year-old
Dane could be extradited to India. The Justice Ministry decision was in
contrast to then Justice Minister and now Foreign Minister Lene Espersen’s
statements to parliament that he could not be extradited. Holck’s defence
has repeatedly contended that he would suffer harsh treatment if extradited
India accuses Holck of being one of a group that dropped weapons near the town
of Purulia in West Bengal in 1995. It has never been ascertained exactly who
the weapons were destined for. India has severally suggested that they were
destined for the Ananda Marga organisation or rebels in North-east India
allegedly supported by Bangladesh.
Weapons, including Kalashnikovs, sniper rifles and anti-tank weapons were
dropped over Purulia on December 17, 1995 from a Latvian registered and
crewed Antonov An-26 aircraft that had taken off from Burgas in Bulgaria.
Purulia inhabitants contacted local police after finding some of the weapons,
by which time the aircraft had continued to Thailand. On its return,
however, it entered Indian air space and was forced to land in Mumbai by
Indian Air Force jets. The crew and a British national Peter Bleach were
One passenger, alleged to be Niels Holck, managed to escape from the airport,
eventually reaching Nepal where he caught a plane for Frankfurt. Holck is
reported to have said that the weapons were destined for villagers in order
to defend themselves against Indian forces.
Holck was formerly known as Niels Christian Nielsen. In an interview with the
Danish Broadcasting Corporation in 2007, Holck suggested the weapons had
indeed been destined for Ananda Marg.
“I took part in challenging a government that oppresses its citizens and I
wanted to help this spiritual movement. I believe that everyone has a right
to defend themselves if they are oppressed,” he was quoted as saying.
In 2002, shortly after Denmark had changed its extradition laws in connection
with changes to its terrorist legislation complex, India called for Holck’s
extradition to face charges.
The Danish Justice Ministry placed conditions on Holck’s extradition. These
included that he could not be given the death penalty, that he could serve
his sentence in Denmark, that torture may not be used against him, that the
Danish embassy should have access to him in prison during the case and that
Indian authorities should inform the Justice Ministry in Denmark of the
progress of the case.