Germany: Ex-Sig Sauer executives on trial over Colombia sale

This Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, file photo shows the sign at the entrance to the headquarters of Sig Sauer, a gun manufacturer based in Newington, N.H. Three former executives of German gun-maker Sig Sauer have gone on trial in Germany on suspicion of illegally selling firearms to Colombia by funneling them through a U.S. sister company. (AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane, file)
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Three former executives of German gun maker Sig Sauer went on trial Tuesday in Germany on suspicion of illegally selling firearms to Colombia by funneling them through a U.S. sister company.

The trial in the northern city of Kiel centers on 180 shipments of semi-automatic SP 2022 pistols transferred from Sig Sauer’s factory in Germany to its New Hampshire affiliate from 2009 to 2011.

Prosecutors claim that more than 38,000 of the 47,000 pistols shipped to the United States were subsequently forwarded to Colombia, in breach of the export license issued by German authorities.

Sig Sauer denies skirting German arms trade restrictions, saying it acted legally when it shipped the guns to the U.S. Prosecutors charge that the company knew where the shipment would eventually end up.

At the time the weapons were sent to Colombia, the Latin American nation’s security forces were engaged in a decades-long conflict with guerrilla groups.

Kiel court spokeswoman Rebekka Kleine said judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers discussed Tuesday whether there can be a settlement in the case. Under German law, such a move wouldn’t require the defendants to make a plea.

An announcement on a possible settlement is expected when the trial resumes Wednesday.

In a separate case last week, a German court gave two former employees of gun maker Heckler & Koch suspended sentences for their role in the delivery of thousands of firearms that ended up in troubled areas of Mexico, and ordered the confiscation of proceeds from the sales totaling some 3.7 million euros ($4.2 million).

Peace campaigners in Germany have long tried to curb the sale of German weapons abroad.

A report Tuesday by public broadcaster Deutsche Welle found evidence that German military equipment is being used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen. Germany recently stopped issuing licenses for arms exports to Saudi Arabia.q