Germany probes suspected illegal Libyan arms sales: reports

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A German prosecutor is examining the possible illegal sale of weapons to Libyan ex-strongman Moamer Kadhafi by a German firm, according to press reports Sunday.

The public prosecutor in the southwestern city of Stuttgart is reported to have opened a case against the firm Heckler & Koch into the possible illegal delivery of several hundred G36 assault rifles, which are used by the German army.

During the battle for Tripoli, Libyan rebels are reported to have found the same model of rifle in the home of the ex-dictator who was killed Thursday as he tried to flee his hometown of Sirte.

However, due to an arms sales embargo, forces loyal to Kadhafi should not have been able to get hold of the rifles.

Citing experts, the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the serial numbers on the weapons had been "falsified with a high degree of technicality".

Der Spiegel magazine reported that Heckler & Koch had acknowledged having officially delivered 608 rifles and 500,000 cartridges to the Egyptian defence ministry with German government consent.

It was unclear how the weapons reached Libya.

But Bild am Sonntag said the transfer was possibly negotiated by one of Kadhafi's sons, Saadi, during a 2003 trip to the company's headquarters in Oberndorf, in the southwest of Germany.

Shortly afterwards the arms were reportedly delivered to Egypt.

"There is no trace of a visit by Saadi Kadhafi, nor of a delivery of G36 assault rifles to Libya in the archives of the company," Heckler & Koch's lawyer, Juergen Wessing, told the newspaper.

© 2011 AFP

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