Bellasi investigated on new charges

Dino Bellasi, the man at the heart of the biggest defence ministry fraud scandal, is now being investigated on new charges, military authorities said Friday.

This content was published on September 17, 1999 - 15:04

Dino Bellasi, the man at the heart of the biggest defence ministry fraud scandal, is now being investigated on new charges, military authorities said Friday.

The head of military justice, Dieter Weber, said Bellasi was being investigated on suspicion of having violated military regulations banning the use of private arms and ammunition in Switzerland’s militia army.

Bellasi used the now confiscated weapons and ammunition during regular target shooting practice in the army’s refresher courses at the Berne and Andermatt training grounds.

Bellasi could face up to six months in prison, should he be found guilty.

Weber refused to describe the violation as a minor case since Bellasi had knowingly and repeatedly violated the shooting course regulations.

It will eventually be up to the military authorities to decide whether to formally charge and try Bellasi or to drop the case.

The target shooting courses were part of a scandal that reached its climax in late August, when Bellasi retracted his previous claims that his superiors in the military intelligence service had ordered him to set up a shadow intelligence unit.

Bellasi said this order prompted him to steal SFr8.65 million ($5.8 million) from defence ministry funds and use the money to finance over 200 weapons and many rounds of ammunition, which authorities have mostly seized.

The scandal rocked the defence ministry to the point that the head of the intelligence unit, Peter Regli, has now been allocated new tasks in the defence ministry.

He had been suspended as head of intelligence a month ago, when the ministry began its own investigation into how such a large-scale fraud case could happen without anybody noticing.

Defence Minister Adolf Ogi, who came under intense political pressure over the scandal, has promised to open up some of the workings of the intelligence unit in order to regain public confidence in the defence ministry.

Col. Jean-Denis Geinoz, one of Bellasi’s superiors, has been given the temporary task to set up an Internet website and make the intelligence unit more accessible to the public.

From staff and wire reports.



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