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Sweden demands answers on FARC arms

Sweden demands answers on FARC arms

Published: 27 Jul 2009 19:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Jul 2009 19:17 GMT+02:00

Sweden called on Venezuela on Monday to explain how Swedish-made weapons sold to the South American country ended up in the hands of Colombian FARC guerillas.

"We have asked the officials of the government of Venezuela to give us information on how they believe this material was found in Colombia," said Jens Eriksson, a political advisor to the Swedish Industry Ministry.

"We have it confirmed that a small amount of (defence) material made in Sweden has been found in a FARC camp," Eriksson said, stressing that no Swedish company had ever been granted a permit to sell to Colombia.

Later on Monday, Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos said a number of anti-tank weapons had been seized from FARC rebels, adding that they had been purchased by Venezuela in Europe.

"In several operations in which we have recovered weapons from the FARC, we've found powerful ammunition (and) powerful equipment, including anti-tank weapons which a European country sold to Venezuela and which turned up in the hands of the FARC," Santos told Colombia's Caracol radio.

The FARC is Latin America's oldest and largest insurgency, and has been battling the government in Bogota for 45 years.

On Monday, Venezuela's Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami denounced Sweden's statements as a "new attack" against his country, while Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro described them as a way for neighboring Colombia to "justify" its recent military pact with the United States.

An agreement announced earlier this month allowing US forces to use three Colombian military bases for South American anti-drug operations has heightened tensions between Colombia and its neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Monday warned that the FARC "now are seeking to buy some surface-to-air devices to try and shoot down our planes," and asked for help from the international community to thwart such attempts.

Jane's Defence Weekly reported on July 20 that the weapons in question were AT4 rocket launchers produced by Saab Bofors Dynamics in Sweden.

Chief executive Tomas Samuelsson confirmed the weapons found by Colombian authorities were indeed made by the company.

"We have been informed that our weapons have been found in the camp," he told AFP.

"All countries that we export to have to sign an 'end user' certificate otherwise export will not be permitted. Unfortunately, sometimes a weapon shows up where it shouldn't be but that is very rare. When that happens, it is normally theft," Samuelsson said.

Saab Bofors Dynamics is a subsidiary of the Swedish defence company Saab - a separate company from the automaker of the same name - that employs 13,300 people worldwide.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:44 July 27, 2009 by BravoTango
It is not surprising that weapons made in Sweden end up in the hands of insurgents. To think that this could never happen to weapons made in Sweden (or any other country for that matter) is very naieve. Any weapon made anywhere can end up in anyone's hands. It is all a matter of money. It also doesn't surprise me that the weapons were originally sold to Venezuela. Mr. Chavez is the kind of person who seems to want to destabilize South America.
21:08 July 27, 2009 by miloidrr
This is so sad, because the FARC in my country kill my town, and the international community must reject this actions. They take the life of many childs and push them to fight, to die. Please don't help The Farc, my country needs finish with this war. Don't allow that your country Hill become like a country that support the terrosism
21:23 July 27, 2009 by odinmp5
one thing is to be naive and ruin your own country like sweden does, an another totally different one is being naive and ruin other places far from your own.

the same idiots that promote swedish multiculturalism with radical muslims keep close ties with FARC lobbists.

In case you dont know FARC are responsible for the deaths of plenty of poor inconent children and the recruitment of indigenous people in the war. their internet site has a server located in stockholm.

it bugs me, to read what m.r samuelsson said.

this is not a surprise
22:08 July 27, 2009 by Visitant
Please, don't forget that Farc is considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States. And, that statement isn't a political issue, it's a reality check!!!
03:29 July 28, 2009 by mkwrk2
It is GLOBALIZATION-in-practice: produced nearby Arctic top of the Earth, arns were sold to a different distant land and surfaced in a place this stuff to really be deployed.

Michael Kerjman
05:39 July 28, 2009 by peropaco
The Swedish hypocresy. Now they are behaving like mangy whimpering dogs by pretending to launch an investigation. The scandal with Bofors goes way back as described int this article from 1987.

06:45 July 28, 2009 by Tutu
Oh my sweden, oh my beloved Sweden. Peropaco you read my mind. Sweden is now pretending as if they do not know. Sweden has a long history of hypocricy dating back to Hitler. Chavez is going to call Sweden's bluff and there is nothing Sweden can do about. We can not even handle Eriterea that called our bluff and to talk of mighty Chavez. They better just accept the report and leave it as that instead of aggravating the insult.
11:48 July 28, 2009 by bettan1
This is what you get when you base a good portion of your economy on the munitions trade. What do they expect is going to possibly happen when they sell arms across the planet ??? It does'nt matter that you sell only to approved countries. The real world does'nt believe in a Pollyanna world where everyone plays the Glad Game.

I'm actually surprised by many things since I've moved here three years ago. From all the propaganda put out there about this Secular Progressive success story and yet what you find is an environment no different than anywhere else.

Even their World War II record is suspect. For a country which does'nt believe in war, then why the armaments manufacturing ??? It's amazing that this is not the only instance of munnitions getting into the hands of 3rd world extremists. They need to get a grip on reality. Somehow I think they do know what's really going on. The public display of outrage is probably nothing more than a smoke screen to cover thier behinds.
12:48 July 28, 2009 by Omaro
I just want to know, is there really till now people who believe that joke that there is a champion country of peace, come on, wakey wakey.
18:03 July 28, 2009 by travels
Either naive bordering on stupidity or purposely aiding the cruelest and most destabilizing guerrilla group in Latin America. The FARC kidnaps people and holds for years on end, has a total communist point of view, has submerged Colombia in a never ending war and undermined that country for decades, just to mention a few of their deeds. And to think that Hugo Chavez would not pass arms to them, idiocy!!!, ignorance!!!, almost criminal.
01:05 July 29, 2009 by miloidrr
Juaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, what the ####, Swedem is the country that allow FARC webpage server Juaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, This is so sad, and unbelievable
06:40 July 29, 2009 by LagomUser
As far as I know Sweden is a neutral country. With a long tradition in peace and brotherhhod... but on the other hand it produces weapons and it is world's 10 Arms producer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_industry. So weapons are a bussiness created to enrich the companie's shareholders and to fuel war. So is not that an hipocresy?

Otherwise, Colombian Goverment buys stuff from the americans all the time, thus the guerrila buys weapons from Russia through Venezuela... thousands of farmers and inocent people killed. Landowners, politicians and guerrilla leaders expanding their territories. Big businness for the generals, weapons traders and thousands of refugees left behind. Then some responsibles are judge but the real "bosses" are free in both sides.
09:38 July 29, 2009 by conboy
All of this is merely an unfortunate turn of events according to Bofors managing director. Just like the unfortunate turn of events when the Swedes managed to supply both sides in the Iran/Iraq war during the government reign of Olof Palme "the peacemaker". They also happily managed to supply the Indians during the Kashmir conflict and of course Sweden supplies arms to it's NATO and EU allies so all and all I am a little confused with the term "neutral Sweden".
18:50 July 29, 2009 by miloidrr
We should wait, Chaves going to give so oil-dollars and all is ok, nothing happened
20:56 July 29, 2009 by Guarauno
Sweden can do nothing about it when even United States seem to fear Chavez,it´s unbelievable that "rich countries" behave as if they were starving just in order to get money doesn´t matter it is stolen and it comes from a poor country like Venezuela.
21:13 July 30, 2009 by Joss Joseph Mageau
AS AN IMPARTIAL OBSERVER..being Canadian and living half of the year in Central America and having traveled extensively in South America..

I am on the side of the left..Sweden being considered left wing..and this paper might be left wing..I state that Swedish neutrality is largely due to your geographical isolation and not due to anypacifist nature

you do well to lament your growing arms sales and would do well to change the venue of the peace prize

perhaps adolf and company could start another devastating war while you ship steel to Siemens or Messerschmidt..

as for FARC, anyone who has traveled south would know why they exist..conditions in the rural areas and in some of the urban slums are ripe for war..

Uribe and company are true pigs,as such, they deserve sanctions and bombing raids but having the yanqui umbrella they fly under the radar screen..

Swedes are truly pussys.. as usual human nature prevails and after all..a kroner is a kroner.. but c'est la vie
12:36 September 17, 2010 by Rizwan Rahim
seems high time to think of "TWE" (trading with enemy) regulations.
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