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Swiss weapons being used in Libya

27 Jul 2011, 10:30

Published: 27 Jul 2011 10:37 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Jul 2011 10:30 GMT+02:00

Swiss government-owned weapons company Ruag is under pressure after reports emerged that ammunition exports to Qatar are being used by Libyan rebels, violating Swiss law.

 

According to a report broadcast last week on Swiss TV station SF, Qatar has apparently broken end-user agreements by re-exporting the Swiss bullets, made in Ruag's Ammotec plant in Thun, south of Bern, to Libya.

Swiss law forbids any weapons to be sold to countries in conflict, while the United Nations has placed an arms embargo on Libya.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which handles export agreements, has now reacted to the report by stopping all weapons exports to Qatar, pending an investigation into how the bullets landed in Libyan rebel hands. 

It is thought that the ammunition originates from 2009, when Switzerland sold 1.85 million francs ($2.3 million) worth of ammunition to Qatar. Last year, Swiss weapons-makers made deals with the gulf state worth over half a million francs.

But Swiss opposition parties are not satisfied with SECO's decision. The Green Party's Jo Lang, a member of a security policy committee of the Swiss parliament, is calling for a total ban on weapons exports to the entire Middle East and the Maghreb region.

Lang fears Swiss weapons could also be used to suppress democracy movements in the region.

Christian Democrat Jakob Büchler, speaker of the security policy committee, called the re-export of Ruag ammunition an "unpleasant isolated case."

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