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Mercenaries Pilatus no longer under investigation over Saudi Arabia activities


Activities that undermine Switzerland’s traditional neutrality and its foreign policy aims, including the respect of humanitarian law, are outlawed.


Swiss aircraft manufacturer Pilatus did not violate the Mercenaries Act, the office of the attorney general has concluded.

The attorney general decided to drop criminal proceedings triggered by a government claim that the company had failed to report services provided in Saudi Arabia.

The German-language newspaper NZZ am Sonntag broke the news. The decision, which was taken on November 18, is legally binding, according to news agency Keystone-SDA.

Switzerland’s foreign affairs ministry had filed criminal charges against persons unknown on the grounds that Pilatus had not adequately reported aircraft maintenance orders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as is required by law. The attorney general found no violation of this duty.

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Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs had extended a temporary export permit in September 2016 without consulting the company, according to the attorney general’s ruling, cited by Keystone-SDA. Pilatus therefore had no reason and no opportunity to make a report.

The company maintains that the Swiss government was aware of its activities in Saudi Arabia. The controversial services provided by Pilatus include technical support, spare parts management and problem solving on PC-21 aircraft and simulators. 

According to the foreign affairs ministry, this amounts to logistical support for military action, the news agency noted. Saudi Arabia is a major party to the war in Yemen.

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