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Bellasi refused bail

The illegal cache of weapons hoarded by Dino Bellasi

(Keystone)

A former Swiss intelligence officer, accused of embezzling millions from the defence ministry and amassing a hoard of illegal weapons, has been refused bail by the federal court.

The court on Wednesday refused Dino Bellasi's request for bail, saying there was a risk that he would to try to flee the country.

Bellasi was arrested last year on charges of allegedly embezzling SFr8.65 million ($5.14 million) from the defence ministry.

The court said that SFr4 million had yet to be recovered and on this basis it could not allow Bellasi to leave custody until the trial was over. The judges added that Bellasi had plenty of contacts abroad, where he could find refuge if he fled the country.

Bellasi is facing charges of fraud, falsification of documents, embezzlement, money laundering, and slander.

As an accountant in the defence ministry, he allegedly siphoned off the money over a five-year period on the pretext that it was for military refresher courses, which never took place.

He also amassed a cache of weapons, which police discovered hidden in an apartment in Bern.

After his arrest, Bellasi's lawyer claimed the weapons were part of a bigger scheme to set up a secret intelligence unit and finance it with the diverted ministry funds.

Bellasi said he had been acting under orders of the defence ministry's intelligence chief, Peter Regli.

He later retracted the accusation and admitted that he had acted alone.

swissinfo with agencies

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