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Government to auction off illegal weapons cache

The illegal cache of weapons hoarded by Dino Bellasi

(Keystone)

The Swiss government is to put on public auction an illegal weapons cache, amassed by a disgraced member of the intelligence services, Dino Bellasi. The cache, consisting of more than 200 weapons, was discovered in a secret location in Berne last year.

Weapon enthusiasts will have a field day in September when some 220 weapons, illegally stashed by the former intelligence official, Dino Bellasi, come under the hammer at a public auction.

The arsenal includes semi-automatic assault rifles, pump-action shotguns, pistols, as well as telescopic sights, infra-red night sights and silencers.

A federal investigator, Monique Saudan, told the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) that the weapons were being sold because the Swiss army had no use for them.

The auction is likely to attract plenty of public attention because of the high-profile Bellasi scandal. Bellasi was detained last year on suspicion of having stolen nearly SFr9 million for military refresher courses, which never took place.

After his arrest, he claimed that he had been ordered to secretly divert the funds to finance a secret intelligence unit. He said the weapons were part of the arsenal for this special unit.

His allegations sparked a massive inquiry into the activities of the intelligence services, leading to the suspension of the intelligence chief, Peter Regli, and several other leading officials.

Bellasi eventually admitted the entire story was a fabrication. He remains in custody.

His lawyer, André Seydoux told the SBC that Bellasi had welcomed the news that the weapons are to be auctioned off. He said they'd been purchased with taxpayers' money, and it was only right that the proceeds from their sale be returned to the public purse.

swissinfo with agencies

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