Arms exports to Colombia: BGH investigates corporate money collection | Free press


They were approved for the US – but then thousands of pistols ended up in Colombia. For what amount can company money be collected in case of export violations? The BGH is investigating this.

Karlsruhe (dpa) – An unauthorized export of pistols from the weapons manufacturer Sig Sauer to Colombia concerns the Federal Court of Justice (BGH).

The highest German criminal court must clarify whether the state can collect 11.1 million euros of the supposed profit from the deal. The weapons manufacturer supplied more than 47,000 SP 2022 pistols to a sister company in the US between 2009 and 2011. Of these, more than 38,000 were re-exported to Colombia. However, only exports to America were allowed. The case raises numerous legal questions, President Jürgen Schäfer said at the hearing in Karlsruhe on Thursday. The BGH wants to announce its judgment on 1 July (2 p.m.).

In April 2019, the Kiel Regional Court imposed suspended sentences and heavy monetary demands on three suspects. It was proven that the former directors of the Eckernförde site were responsible for the export of the arms trade.

The BGH has now reviewed three companies of the company against the Kiel judgment (Az. 3 StR 518/19). You are against the seizure of the EUR 11.1 million – from the point of view of the court, the profit from illegal arms transfers to Colombia.

Sig Sauer’s three companies are asking for the regional court’s decision to be quashed. They believe that, in principle, exports could also have been approved as re-exports to Colombia. They also pointed out that some of the weapons remained in the US as a destination country.

However, from the point of view of the representative of the federal prosecutor’s office, the revisions should be completely rejected. “They were all banned exports.”

Peace activists hope the BGH will confirm the verdict. “It would send a chilling signal to the arms industry,” said Holger Rothbauer, attorney for “Aktion Aufschrei – Stop the Arms Trade,” who filed a complaint on behalf of the campaign in 2014 against those responsible for Sig Sauer. “The amount of confiscation in the Sig-Sauer case is historic,” he said. The regional court ruling made it clear to the arms industry by confiscating the entire proceeds of the sale: “Illegal arms trade is never worth it.”

Rothbauer was referring to the same BGH Senate’s judgment on Heckler & Koch on March 30. The BGH had confirmed that the seizure of more than three million euros for illegal arms exports to Mexico was legal (Az. 3 StR 474/19). According to a SIG-Sauer lawyer, the current case differs “in every respect” from the Heckler & Koch case.

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