On February 21st, the trial against the German arms company Heckler & Koch in Stuttgart, for the illegal sale of arms to Mexico ended with sentences for a former head of sales and a member of the administrative staff. Between 2006 and 2009, Heckler & Koch delivered thousands of weapons to Mexico, including 4,219 semi-automatic G-36 rifles, two submachine guns and 1,759 gun barrels that arrived in Jalisco, Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero, states where the export of weapons is prohibited by German law. The company itself will have to return all the profits of these sales amounting to 3.7 million euros (approximately 4.2 million dollars). The two individuals mentioned were sentenced to probation for 22 and 17 months with a fine of 80 thousand euros and 250 hours of social work. Three other employees, two former export managers and a sales assistant manager, were acquitted. The culprits obtained the export permit fraudulently, using false information from the Mexican government regarding the destination of the weapons.
During the sessions not only were there accusations against the German company, but also against politicians and members of the Armed Forces of Mexico, including the director of the Direction of Commercialization of Armament and Ammunition (DCAM in its Spanish acronym), Guillermo Aguilar, who received 117 thousand pesos as an accomplice to the events.
Jürgen Grässlin, activist and initiator of the trial, said that in this way thousands of German weapons were made available to state forces designated as co-opted by organized crime and responsible for serious human rights violations. Human rights organizations stressed that even legally imported weapons will end up in the hands of drug trafficking groups. A serious case of human rights violations in which a link with Heckler & Koch’s weapons was established is that of the 43 missing students of the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa. It has been shown that these weapons were used in the violent events of September 27th, 2014.
Heckler & Koch reacted to the ruling with the promise of “fundamental changes to avoid unfortunate incidents in the future” such as a change in the internal compliance system and “to each potential distribution partner a rigorous compliance audit.” However, they criticized the ruling “that we should not only renounce the profits generated from the business in Mexico, but renounce the total sales price, despite the fact that none of the directors committed the offense.”
Also German pacifist organizations criticized the sentence for judging the company and its employees under the Law of Foreign Trade instead of the Law of Control of Weapons of War. The judges decided that the declaration to end use of arms is not part of the license to export arms, which is why the War Weapons Control Act cannot be applied. “If this ruling is maintained, the current controls on the export of weapons of war and military equipment do not work. You have to develop and introduce a new law to control the export of weapons that is effective”, said the German lawyer Holger Rothbauer. Other criticisms arose due to the absence of sentences against more influential employees. “This is a very clear case of two kinds of justice: the smallest are condemned and the biggest are let go,” said Jürgen Grässlin.
For more information in Spanish:
Multan a empresa alemana de armas usadas en caso de los 43 de Ayotzinapa (El Universal el 21 de febrero de 2019)
Juicio alemán por venta ilegal de armas a México concluye (El Universal el 21 de febrero de 2019)
Un tribunal alemán multa a Heckler & Koch por la exportación ilegal de armas a México (El País el 21 de febrero de 2019)
Condenas en Alemania por venta ilegal de armas a México (La Jornada el 21 de febrero de 2019)
Corte alemana condena a Heckler & Koch por exportar armas ilegalmente a México (Contra Linea el 21 de febrero de 2019)
For more information from SIPAZ :
Guerrero/National/International: New Reports on Ayotzinapa Case (March 27th, 2018)
National/Guerrero: “No more arms sales to Mexico” – German Government (March 8th, 2015)