The Germans have a robust profile as international arms merchants. Sales and profits from munitions keep drug cartels in business. Read my earlier post about the courageous journalist Anabel Hernandez.
Deutsche Welle 2.21.2019
Two former staff members at the weapons manufacturer were given suspended sentences for violating Germany’s War Weapons Control Act for their involvement in the delivery of machine guns to Mexico.
The 10-month trial of former employees of Germany’s biggest gun-maker, Heckler & Koch, ended in disappointment for arms trade opponents as former CEOs were acquitted for their part in the illegal sale of G36 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009, while Marianne B. and Ingo S., employees with largely administrative duties, were found guilty.
A few boos rang out in the courtroom as Judge Frank Maurer read the verdict, especially as Peter B., a former CEO, was found not guilty. The executive, who was also H&K’s main contact with government export authorities, was the most powerful of the defendants, none of whom showed a visible reaction as the verdict was read.
The judge’s narrow legal focus drew outrage from the gallery. After he dismissed what he called the “populist” argument that the “executioners” were being condemned while the big decision-makers were being let go, Grässlin called out, “That’s exactly how it is!” Afterwards, Grässlin called the verdict an example of “two-class justice,” and said the trial had revealed how ineffective Germany’s arms export controls are.
The company Heckler & Koch itself was fined €3.7 million ($4.2 million), the approximate value of the guns at the time of their sale. That came as a welcome surprise to veteran anti-arms trade activist Jürgen Grässlin, who had initially pressed the charges and had expected a fine based only on the profits from the illegal sale. He added that the fine could exacerbate H&K’s financial troubles.