Basel cop convicted for selling machine guns

A former Basel police detective received a ten-month suspended jail sentence on Monday for using his position to acquire and re-sell illegal machine guns, firearms, hand grenades and other accessories.

Basel cop convicted for selling machine guns
MP5 machine gun on display at the US Army Ordnance Museum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The 51-year-old, who worked for the cantonal police force for 20 years, was authorized to order guns and other weapons, according to an online report from 20 Minutes newspaper.

However, he took advantage of his position to order firearms, which he paid for with his own money then resold to others, the newspaper reported.

He admitted in the Basel criminal court to selling to a Zurich friend illegal weapons, including Heckler & Koch MP5 machine guns with silencers and other guns.

He also sold him hand grenades from the former Yugoslavia.

The force suspended him from duty after learning of the allegations.

“I am a real enthusiast, a serious collector,” the former cop said in defending his actions, 20 Minutes reported.

“My client is not a stamp collector, certainly, but let’s not treat him like a terrorist or a bank robber,” the defendant’s lawyer added, the newspaper said.

But the judge was not convinced, issuing the suspended jail term sought by the prosecutor.

The man’s collection of firearms was seized and will be sold, 20 Minutes said.

At the time of his suspension, he resigned from the force and has since become a tyre salesman, the newspaper reported.

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Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

Swiss authorities have sent an 84-year-old bank robber to prison. The man, who robbed the same bank twice, had hoped his age would see him avoid sentencing.

Switzerland jails 84-year-old bank robber

A court in the Swiss canton of Lucerne has jailed an 84-year-old man for two years and four months for two bank robberies stretching back across the past decade. 

The man, named in Swiss media as Willi P, has been given a partially suspended sentence and will only need to serve six months. 

The man robbed a bank in Meggen in 2012 and in 2017, stealing around CHF13,000 in total. 

He threatened the bank’s employees with a folding pocket knife placed inside a plastic bag to look like a gun. 

The man avoided jail in 2021 when the case was brought to court, with the judges saying he was too old. 

This time, the cantonal court disagreed. 

“According to the case law of the federal court, even a relatively old age does not in principle justify a particular sensitivity to punishment, which must be taken into account to reduce the sentence,” the court said. 

READ MORE: Why do foreigners ‘commit more violent crimes’ than the Swiss?

Willi P was remorseful, telling the media he was “heartbroken” by what he had done, telling the press his wife had no idea about the robberies. 

“I’m really sorry for everything and felt heartbroken. Afterwards I said to myself: Hey, you are stupid! Why do you still have to do something like this at this age?”

The man pleaded with the court not to sentence him, saying “I’ve been punished enough with my poor health. I am sorry.”

While the court noted that due to the man’s advanced age he may die in jail, this was not enough of an exceptional circumstance to prevent the sentence.