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Switzerland bans shipment of arms to Venezuela

Swiss authorities have banned the export of 9mm pistols to Venezuela (picture: SAN)

A Swiss company has been refused permission to sell weapons to Venezuela following an arms embargo imposed last year.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) informed the company, SAN Swiss Arms, that it would not be allowed to proceed with the sale of nine-millimetre pistols to the Venezuelan army.

Instability in Venezuela, coupled with a fear that the arms might fall into the hands of Colombian rebels, were the main reasons behind the decision, a spokesperson for SECO said.

The export request was rejected in June last year after consultations with the Swiss foreign ministry.

Roland Mayer, managing director of SAN Swiss Arms, questioned the government's decision to ban the sale of the weapons, which he says were destined for use by military personnel.

"The argument that the situation in Venezuela is unstable is not a convincing one at all," Mayer said. "Things have improved a lot since the election of the president, Hugo Chavez."

Mayer refused to disclose the quantity of arms which had been destined for export, but confirmed the sum of money involved was "very important" to SAN Swiss Arms.

The company has lodged an appeal against the refusal to permit the export of weapons to Venezuela with the economics ministry.

swissinfo with agencies


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