Former employees of German arms firm Heckler & Koch are on trial for selling thousands of guns to Mexico. Prosecutors are now seeking €4.1 million from the firm and jail terms for the ex-staff — including a former judge.
Prosecutors in the German city of Stuttgart recommended prison sentences on Thursday for three out of the five former Heckler & Koch employees standing trial for unapproved weapons exports to Mexico.
Heckler & Koch, Germany's top gun maker, should also pay a fine of €4.1 million ($4.6 million), prosecutors recommended. The amount is the approximate price of the weapons that were sold to Mexico in the deal between 2006 and 2009.
What prosecutors are demanding:
-- A former sales director, identified as Ingo S., should face a term of two years and nine months for being a member of an organized crime operation.
-- Marianne B., a former clerical employee with the company who was said to be integral to carrying out the crime, should receive two years and six months in prison for acting as an accessory.
-- Prosecutors also recommended a one year and 10 month sentence for Peter B., a former president of the district court of Rottweil who then served as a Heckler & Koch board member. The Stuttgart prosecutor added that the sentence could be suspended if he pays a €200,000 fine.
-- Prosecutors recommended acquittals for the two remaining defendants.
Left party politician Jan van Aken, who is a staunch opponent both of the German arms industry and the government's export policies, described the proposed sentence against the former judge as "particularly surprising" in a statement posted on Twitter.
Thousands of guns sold without permission
All German arms exports require approval from a special government panel made up of senior ministers and the chancellor. The former staff members are accused of violating Germany's War Weapons Control Act as well as its Foreign Trade Act by sending the weapons to several states in Mexico that were plagued by violence.
Between 2006 and 2009, Heckler & Koch allegedly sold over 4,500 G36 assault rifles, plus accessories and ammunition — all were bound for Mexican states plagued by violence.
The accused employees allegedly manipulated certain documents to allow for the sales and deliveries to go through, although they knew those regions in Mexico weren't permitted for exports under the War Weapons Control Act.
According to prosecutors, Marianne B. and Ingo S. formed an organized crime network with a former Heckler & Koch department head who died in 2015 as well as another former staff member who served as the company's Mexico representative and who lives in Mexico City.
His trial is being conducted separately, since the man's lawyer says he is too sick to travel for the trial in Stuttgart.
A verdict is expected in late February.