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Defence Minister Ogi pledges swift reform of military intelligence

Swiss Defence Minister Adolf Ogi and Chief of Staff Hans-Ulrich Scherrer (r) on Wednesday pledged to move ahead swiftly with the reforms of the military’s intelligence unit.

This content was published on September 1, 1999 - 17:54

Swiss Defence Minister Adolf Ogi and Chief of Staff Hans-Ulrich Scherrer (r) on Wednesday pledged to move ahead swiftly with the reforms of the military’s intelligence unit.

However, both men refused to answer journalists’ questions on the budget of the unit, its sources of information and operating methods.

“Do not expect me to give you material for major headlines,” Ogi told a news conference in Berne, without addressing the previous day’s turn of events in the Bellasi case.

Dino Bellasi, an officer and senior accountant in the unit, admitted Tuesday that he lied when he accused intelligence chief Peter Regli of ordering him to steal SFr8.9 million ($5,9 million) from ministry funds to finance a shadow intelligence unit.

Ogi was visibly relieved when federal prosecutors announced the retraction in the biggest defence ministry scandal in years.

The defence minister said he would now work toward the swift implementation of comprehensive reforms of the ministry, which has been strongly criticised for failing to detect the massive fraud case.

Scherrer in turn outlined the main task of the intelligence service, saying it was gathering and analysing information relevant for Switzerland’s security.

He said that those collecting the information were not men wearing slouch hats but highly qualified analysts.

The defence ministry said that some of the relevant political and economic information gathered might soon be published on a planned Internet site.

The military authorities announced Wednesday that, parallel to the civilian investigation by federal prosecutors, they were launching their own military legal proceedings against Bellasi.

Scherrer said the military was gathering evidence related to the test firing of several shot guns that belonged to Bellasi’s arms caches, which were recently discovered.

From staff and wire reports.

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