Arms Trade - "Weapon scandal stuns the Swiss"

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Janet M Eaton

Aug 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM8/29/99
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From: "Janet M Eaton" <>
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 12:28:34 +0000
Subject: Arms Trade - "Weapon scandal stuns the Swiss"
Priority: normal

Network for Peace in the Balkans -

Further to an article I posted on August 13
From: the British Medical Journal
Who gets hurt by all these weapons?
See [2] below for full article

which focuses on -
- the increasing threat to greater numbers of non-combatants who are
being directly and indirectly injured, maimed, and killed by weapons
that used to be thought of as weapons of war, to be directed against

but finds its context in the fact that
"Ownership or possession of a light weapon has never been easier, or
more widespread, and step by step the international community is
losing control over these weapons."

we read below [1] of yet another scandalous manifestation of that

and note the reference to Kosovo:
"A parliamentary inquiry is now likely into possible links between
the service [Swiss Secret] and organisations such as the Kosovo
Liberation Army and the Russian mafia, which have Swiss bases. "

all the best,


The Sunday Times, London, August 29 1999

Weapon scandal stuns the Swiss

Fiona Fleck Berne

A GUN-HOARDING accountant married to a former prostitute and suspected of
multi-million-pound fraud has turned the sleepy world of the Swiss secret
service on its head in a case that is building into the country's biggest
scandal in decades.

Fast-living Dino Bellasi, former chief accountant of the secret service, is
a far cry from the stereotypical Swiss civil servant. A shocked nation has
heard accusations that he and his wife, Gabriela, pocketed more than £4m
from defence ministry coffers to finance a jetset lifestyle of luxury villas
and holidays.

If the alleged embezzlement of public funds were not bad enough, it has
emerged that Bellasi had a series of arms caches, indicating links with the
underworld and guerrilla groups. Bellasi has claimed that he was acting on
orders from above in "a secret intelligence project" that might even have
been designed to replace the state secret service with an independent group.

Bellasi's claims have led Peter Regli, the Swiss intelligence chief
bemoaning "a grotesque web of lies", to take paid leave.

A parliamentary inquiry is now likely into possible links between the
service and organisations such as the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Russian
mafia, which have Swiss bases.

In a country where fiscal prudence is a byword, federal investigators have
vowed to stop the rot. "We have no proof of the one or other version. But
we'll soon know the whole truth," said deputy federal prosecutor Felix
Baentiger. "The main thing is to establish whether he was acting alone or
whether other officials were involved."

The first of Bellasi's arsenals was found in the Berne suburb of Buempliz
and comprised 183 weapons, including automatic rifles, pistols, shotguns,
silencers and ammunition. Bellasi, who holds the rank of army captain,
apparently made cash withdrawals from the Swiss National Bank of up to
£40,000 between 1994 and 1999 for fictitious military operations - evidence
of which has resulted in his being charged with fraud, forgery, corruption
in office and money-laundering. His wife has been charged with receiving
stolen goods.

Two other intelligence officials have also been suspended, and a Swiss
diplomat in Hungary has been questioned.

Adolf Ogi, the defence minister, has described the alleged fraud, whose
scale "we could never have dreamt of", as the worst in Swiss history.

British Medical Journal

BMJ 1999;319:395-395 ( 14 August )

Who gets hurt by all these weapons?

Non-combatants outside formal conflicts
Papers pp 410 , 412 , 415

One of the most tragic manifestations of the post cold war world is
the proliferation of weapons. One consequence of the change in the
scope and nature of conflicts is that far greater numbers of
non-combatants are being directly and indirectly injured, maimed, and
killed by weapons that used to be thought of as weapons of war, to be
directed against combatants. The extent of the injuries and the
proportions of non-combatants affected is documented in this week's
issue by three papers that draw on the International Committee of the
Red Cross's unique database of wounds treated in its own hospitals
(pp 410-7).[1-3] Yet, despite burgeoning international concern, we are
woefully short of solutions to address this proliferation of illegal

The studies by Coupland and Meddings show starkly that innocent
non-combatants are increasingly both victims and targets of all types
of weapons, not just light arms but also landmines, and, importantly,
fragmentation munitions.[1-3] In the study from Cambodia, for
example, the need to make seasonal adjustments to the data reflects
the need for rural communities to plant and gather, even though
antipersonnel landmines may lurk below the surface of paddy fields.[3]
Hunger and poverty mean that few can afford to await the arrival of
mine clearance teams.

Many governments, groups, and individuals are responsible for the
widespread proliferation of weapons to non-state actors who appear to
care little about the impact of "civil" war on innocent civilians.[4]
In Afghanistan, for example, the United States government was largely
responsible for directing around $3bn of weaponry through the Afghan
pipeline without any real forethought about what might become of these
weapons once control was lost and what the impact might be.[5] The
evidence lies in the field hospitals of Afghanistan [2] and the
streets of Karachi, where some 3000 die in ethnic disputes each year.

Ownership or possession of a light weapon has never been easier, or
more widespread, and step by step the international community is
losing control over these weapons. Once the armouries have been looted
or the covert shipments have arrived, there is little that can be done
to prevent weapons from entering networks that are beyond the control
of the stateif indeed the state continues to exist. Africa is flooded
with illegal weapons: $12 will buy an AK47 and two clips of ammunition
on the Mozambique border. The same can be bought for $20 in downtown
Johannesburg, a chicken in northern Uganda, a goat in Kenya, and a bag
of secondhand clothes in Angola. [ 6 ] The ubiquitous AK47first
manufactured in 1947and other less well known weapons are tough and
durable, with few moving parts to malfunction. They last forever and
their owners require no real training even a child can become a part
of the "Kalashnikov culture." [7]

When the Albanian state lost control of its entire arsenal in March
1997, irate citizens stole tanks and armoured personnel cars and
careered through the streets until the fuel tanks were dry, the
vehicles broke down, or boredom kicked in. The tanks were abandoned,
but not so the assault rifles and ammunition, some of which may seep
across the borders of the European Union, together with Albanian
organised crime groups (which already control heroin trafficking in
Scandinavia). In the space of a week 750 000 weapons and 1.5 billion
pieces of ammunition went missing. As the European Union expands and
with it the Schengen rim (the area within which there are no border
controls), so union borders will move closer to the Balkans and the
states of the former Soviet Union, which are also major markets for
illegal weapons. Johannesburg boasts some of the finest trauma
surgeons in the world, but consultants privately admit the opportunity
costs within hospital budgets since the massive increase in gunshot
injuries. Could this be the future for the European Union, and could
"flexible sovereignty" unravel in a backlash against civil liberties
as violent crime increases?

Further afield, the overseas development funds of developed nations
were once supposed to finance roads, telecommunications systems,
schools, hospitals, and welfare programmes. Corruption and
mismanagement has weakened many states to a point of collapse, and
nihilistic war has become the norm, led by warlords who profit too
much from war to ever contemplate peace. Humanitarian assistance now
dominates the aid agenda, leaving less and less for the tasks
originally envisaged. And these changes have been facilitated by the
weapons that have flowed freely into the region from major powers to
leaderships that could not keep the locks on their armouries.

Many of the problems seem irreparable but, if there is a next time,
arms suppliersfrom the shady broker in Prague to the civil servant
trained to think in the vernacular of power and advantagemight pause
to think of just how permanent and damaging the legacy of weapons and
violence can be. The International Committee of the Red Cross's
careful documentation of human misery should help them think very

Chris Smith, director, conflict, security, and development group. 
Centre for Defence Studies, King's College, London WC2R 2LS

1. Coupland RM, Samnegaard HO. Effect of type and transfer of
conventional weapons on civilian injuries: retrospective analysis of
prospective data from Red Cross hospitals. BMJ 1999; 319:
410-412[Abstract/Full Text].

2. Meddings DR, O'Connor SM. Circumstances around weapon injury in
Cambodia after departure of peacekeeping force: prospective cohort
study. BMJ 1999; 319: 412-415[Abstract/Full Text].

3. Michael M, Meddings DR, Ramez S, Gutiérrez-Fisac JL. Incidence of
weapon injuries not related to interfactional combat in Afghanistan in
1996: prospective cohort study. BMJ 1999; 319: 415-417[Abstract/Full

4. Arms availability and the situation of civilians in armed conflict.
Geneva: ICRC , 1999.

5. Smith CN. The diffusion of small arms and light weapons in Pakistan
and Northern India. London: Centre for Defence Studies , 1993.

6. Smith CN. Light weapons and the international arms trade. In: Small
arms management and peacekeeping in Southern Africa. Geneva: UNIDIR,

7. Kalashnikov kids: children under arms. Economist 1999;10 July:21-3.

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