Smuggling scandal rocks Swedish Air Force
Published: 26 Oct 2011 15:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Oct 2011 15:13 GMT+02:00
The Swedish military has been hit by a smuggling scandal stemming from the Air Force's just completed mission in Libya.
As part of the operation, military supplies were flown between the Sigonella military base in Sicily, Italy and an air base in Sweden.
However, an inspection of crates containing the officers' personal items that arrived at the F21 air wing in Luleå in northern Sweden revealed that a number of personal items, including wine, liquor, toys, and home electronic equipment were included among the military materiel, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reported.
The items are believed to have been purchased at a duty-free shop for military personnel stationed at the Italian military base.
Citing an anonymous source at military headquarters, the local Västerbotten Kuriren newspaper reported that the items consisted mostly of presents purchased by Swedish officers for their families.
Now a total of 14 employees at the F21 air wing have come under suspicion of smuggling the items into Sweden illegally.
By including the items on military transports, the suspects were able to avoid paying both freight and customs duties or sales taxes.
While anyone is able to purchase duty-free items for personal use in another EU country and bring the items back to Sweden, the buyer is responsible for transporting the goods rather than using military transports.
Military police have since confiscated the items and reported the suspected smuggling to prosecutors in Luleå.
“We take this very seriously,” Katja Öberg Lundgren, a spokesperson for Sweden's military police, told the newspaper.
“Armed Forces transports shouldn't be used for private purposes”
Prosecutor Åke Hansson confirmed that his office had launched a preliminary investigation into the alleged smuggling of goods.
If convicted, those suspected of trying to circumvent import rules, would face fines.