German weapons giant finally sentenced
The weapons giant Heckler & Koch, the manufacturers of G36 -the “death machine” used by murderous states throughout the world, from Kurdistan to Nicaragua- was finally sentenced by a German court.
Administrators of Heckler & Koch, one of the most prominent weapons manufacturers in Germany, responsible for many civilian deaths, had been on trial in the Stuttgart State Court for a massacre in Mexico years ago.
Last year it had come to light that Heckler & Koch violated Germany’s Weapons Control Act and sold 4.1 million Euros worth of weapons to a region to the north of Mexico, where conflict between drug cartels and security forces continue. The court announced a verdict in the case that has continued since July and sentenced the company to pay a fine of 3.7 million Euros.
The court ruled that the weapons sales to Mexico was illegal and sentenced one of five former employees of the company to 17 months in prison, and another to 22 months. One of the sentences was changed to 250 hours of community service and the other to a fine of 80.000 Euros. The administrators were accused of illegally selling 4-500 G36 weapons to the conflict zones in Mexico between 2006 and 2009.
The other 3 defendants were acquitted, but the Stuttgart court’s verdict is still significant in that a weapons manufacturer was sentenced in Germany, a country quite lenient to weapons trade. These sales by Heckler & Koch have been deemed in violation of Germany’s laws on weapons sales and foreign trade.
THE SCANDAL SURFACED WHEN 43 STUDENTS WERE KILLED
43 students detained during a protest in the Guerrero state in Mexico on September 26, 2014 were handed over to the gang Guerreros Unidos (“United Fighters”). A while later dozens of bodies of persons killed by the gang were discovered in mass graves, and the investigation to determine whether the bodies belonged to the missing students continued for months.
After the discovery of the mass graves which occupied the public agenda in Mexico for a long time, over 80 Guerreros Unidos members were detained. There were 36 G36 weapons among the confiscated equipment, but the rifle was only cleared for use in certain states in Mexico.
9.500 G36 rifles had been sold to Mexico with approval from the German government in 2007. The German government stipulated that the rifles could not be used in 4 states, including Guerrero. But peace activists researching Germany’s illegal weapons sales found that thousands of Heckler & Koch weapons were sold to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 to be used throughout Mexico.
CRIMES SWEPT UNDER THE RUG SEVERAL TIMES
This wasn’t the only crime committed by the German weapons giant: Heckler & Koch employees had also trained security forces in the Guerrero state where the massacre was committed. That wasn’t Heckler & Koch’s first incident either. The company also manufactures weapons used by the Turkish state in the dirty war in Kurdistan, but has managed to avoid prosecution in similar cases and investigations several times in the past.
Heckler & Koch is the biggest manufacturer of guns and rifles in Germany, and the fifth in the world. The company sells weapons to at least 92 countries, and is said to be responsible for 1.5 million deaths worldwide between 1961 and 2001. The Stuttgart Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had launched a case against the company before on their weapons sales to Libya during the civil warm, but the case had failed.
Crimes similar to those in Libya and Mexico had been committed by the company back in 1988, when they sold weapons to Nicaragua with help from the CIA and forged licensing documents. The company’s chief had been put on trial for weapons sales to Dubai through the UK in 1993, and the compnay had sold G36 rifles to Georgia without approval by the German government in 2006, a time of high tensions in the Caucasus.
The most important weapon in the Turkish army’s inventory, the G3, is responsible for many massacres and murders in Kurdistan. As such, the treaty that the weapons “cannot be used against civilians and in conflict zones” was violated repeatedly, with no serious consequence to the company to date.