A German court Thursday fined gun maker Heckler & Koch (H&K) €3.7 million (USD $4.2 million) and delivered suspended jail terms to two of its former employees for illegally exporting assault-rifles to Mexico.
The ruling concludes a decades-long investigation and court battle that exposed the illegal sales. According to the World Peace Foundation, “[t]he accusations against H&K pertain to sixteen shipments of G-36 rifles sold to the Mexican government between 2006 and 2009, totaling around 4,500 rifles.”
Initially charges were brought against five employees for the violations of Germany’s War Weapons Control Act, with prosecutors seeking prison sentences for three. The two former H&K employees were given suspended prison sentences of 17 and 22 months.
The most notable person charged was former H&K CEO Peter Beyerle. Reports indicate that boos rang out in the courtroom as Beyerle was pronounced not guilty.
In response, H&K announced in a statement that they will “examine [the] verdict carefully,” but said they cannot “understand the Court’s decision that [they] should not only forfeit the profit generated on the Mexico business but instead forfeit the entire sales price, despite the fact that none of the directors committed an offence.”