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Family due to face charges in nuclear case

Swiss prosecutors are expected to charge a father and his two sons this autumn over their alleged part in an international nuclear smuggling ring.

Friedrich Tinner and his sons Urs and Marco have been under investigation by the Swiss authorities for almost a decade. They are suspected of illegally supplying goods to Libyans as part of a secret nuclear arms programme that started in the late 1970s.

Walburga Bur, a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutors Office in Bern, told the Associated Press news agency that the men's indictment was planned for the autumn. A shortened procedure, under which defendants admit the basic charges against them but face no more than five years imprisonment, was possible, she said.

Breaking Swiss laws banning the export of nuclear material normally carries a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

Urs and Marco Tinner were in Swiss custody from 2005 until 2008 and 2009, respectively. In April, the European Court of Human Rights turned down an appeal they lodged about the duration of their pre-trial detention as well as the length of the legal procedure in general.

The case against the Tinners prompted a political outcry in Switzerland three years ago when it was revealed that the Swiss government had ordered key evidence shredded. and agencies

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