Switzerland can reveal the details of the bank accounts of five Italian citizens accused of illegal arms trafficking, a court ruled on Tuesday.
Italian prosecutors asked Switzerland for help in a case brought against alleged black market dealers to sell arms to Libya and Iraq. The accused are suspected of using bank accounts in Geneva and Lugano to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Libyan officials.
The weapons affair is said to involve plans for the delivery of 500,000 Chinese-made machine guns to Libya and 150,000 guns and machine guns to Iraq.
The alleged dealers had asked the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona to block the release of their details.
The court dismissed their request on the grounds that although Swiss banking secrecy laws normally forbid the divulging of information, this does not apply where there is a strong suspicion that a crime has been committed.
The plaintiffs, who were not named by the court because of privacy rules, can appeal against the ruling to Switzerland's highest tribunal, the Federal Court.