Heckler & Koch fined for illegal gun sales to Mexico

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H&K G36 assault rifles, 2015 picImage source, AFP
Image caption,
The G36 is one of the world's most widely used assault rifles

A German court has handed suspended jail terms to two ex-employees of gun maker Heckler & Koch and fined the firm €3.7m (£3.2m) for illegal arms deliveries to Mexico.

The Stuttgart court acquitted three other H&K ex-employees.

H&K was found to have breached German arms export rules by shipping nearly 5,000 G36 assault rifles and smaller firearms to strife-torn regions.

Mexico is plagued by warfare involving drug gangs and paramilitaries.

Germany's arms export restrictions include Mexican states such as Chiapas, Chihuahua and Guerrero, which are blighted by murders and kidnappings.

The H&K deliveries took place in 2006-2009. One ex-employee was given a suspended sentence of one year and 10 months, plus a fine of €80,000. The other received one year and five months and was ordered to do 250 hours of social work.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
H&K, based in the southern town of Oberndorf, exports arms worldwide

H&K guns, made in the south-western town of Oberndorf, are used in conflicts worldwide. Besides Mexico, they have gone to troops and militias in Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey.

The firm's annual turnover is about €200m.

Read more on Mexico's gang wars:

German broadcasters SWR and BR found evidence that G36 guns were used in a notorious militia attack on Mexican students in Iguala in 2014, in which six students died and 43 were kidnapped. All but one of the 43 disappeared without trace.

The Stuttgart case was triggered by evidence against H&K presented by peace activist Jürgen Grässlin eight years ago, German media report.