Heckler & Koch: trial of ex-employees begins in Germany

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Images of the missing or murdered Mexican teachers in front of a "crime scene" with pretend guns covered in blood, surrounded by yellow crime scene tape.

The trial of six ex-employees of German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch has begun in Germany. The six ex-employees are accused of illegally exporting 4,500 assault rifles and other guns to Mexico, where they ended up in states effected by violence subject to a ban by the German state. The six are charged with violating the Foreign Trade and War Weapons Control Acts.

In particular, the ex-employees are accused of exporting G36 assault rifles, some of the most commonly used machine guns in the world. Journalists in Mexico and Germany have proven that the G36 was used when Mexican police attacked bus carrying a large group of teachers in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014. The attack left six dead, 40 injured, and over 43 “disappeared”; it is believed corrupt police officers handed the teachers over to a local mafia. The German broadcaster ARD aired a documentary that proved G36 rifles were being used in areas of Mexico where they were banned. In 2007, Germany approved the sale of over 9,000 G36 rifles to Mexico, on the condition that they wouldn't be used in a number of Mexican states, including Guerrero, where the police force is considered to be particularly corrupt.

Jürgen Grässlin from the RüstungInformationsBüro (Arms Information Office) filed criminal charges relating to exports in Mexico against the company as far back as 2010, after media reports showed that the weapons were being used by in in Guerrero, but prosecutors failed to bring the investigation to court at the time.

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