GERMANY: German Arms Firm Ends Blackwater Deal After TV Report

Publisher Name: 
Deutsche Welle

Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch said it would end its
relationship with Blackwater after German media reported that the
controversial US-run military firm was using its guns in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

 

Blackwater, a private security company which has been contracted
to protect high-profile US officials and foreign dignitaries in Iraq,
had been using Heckler & Koch machine guns in both Iraq and
Afghanistan, German broadcaster ARD's "Report Mainz" program reported
Monday, Feb. 19.




The German arms manufacturer contacted the
program shortly before the report was aired on Monday night and said it
would cut all its ties to the US firm, according to "Report Mainz."




The
German company on its Web site described its work with Blackwater as a
"unique and strategic partnership" in which the two firms were
cooperating to develop "special edition" firearms and offer training
courses in the United States to use Heckler & Koch weapons.




There
was no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the company reportedly
denied it had developed a weapon for Blackwater, as reported by the TV
program. 

The German government had not given Heckler & Koch permission to
provide Blackwater with firearms, "Report Mainz" said, referring to
information it received from Germany's Economics Ministry.




Exploiting a loophole?



Heckler
& Koch would not provide the program with information as to how
Blackwater got its weapons. However, it may have taken advantage of a
loophole by merely transferring the firearms to its US subsidiary,
which then handed over the wares, the report suggested.




Blackwater
has been under intense scrutiny from the US Congress as a result of the
high number of civilian deaths and injuries the company has caused in
Iraq. The most controversial incident was in September, when Blackwater
guards were said to have fatally shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.




The
company is neither subject to Iraqi law, nor governed by US military
tribunals, which allows it to operate without fear of repercussions.




Politicians want oversight




"It
is scandalous and unacceptable that a German arms company cooperates
with such a lawless mercenary troop ... although it must know that this
firm is involved in illegal killings in Iraq," Green party
parliamentarian Hans Christian Ströbele told the program's reporters.




The
Social Democrats' foreign policy spokesman, Gert Weisskirchen, called
for legislation to prevent German firms from participating in the
"privatization of war" and said that "such cooperation should be
scrutinized."




Free Democratic Party parliamentarian Werner Hoyer
echoed those comments, saying that there was a gap in legislation that
needed to be closed.

AMP Section Name:Blackwater USA
  • 124 War & Disaster Profiteering