Swedish munitions stolen by scrap company

A company hired to scrap Swedish munitions used criminals who stole a howitzer cannon, a piece of mobile artillery, from the army. The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration has blamed the company that was given the job in the first place, but admits that it should have checked the whole supply chain.

During a house raid in the Södertälje area police found the Haubits (Howitzer) 77, along with many other munitions material. The artillery piece, with a range of over twenty kilometres, was missing its barrel.

An English company was given the job of scrapping the military items. But they entrusted a subcontractor who, in turn, hired a Södertälje company run by two known criminals, reported the town’s local paper.

The pair are now being held on suspicion of theft of military material.

The head of information at the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, Kurt Svensson, told TT that the contract with the first company required control over where the items were taken. He “assumed” that it was written in the agreement that they should be able to use a subcontractor.

According to Svensson, it was entirely the responsibility of the contracted company to ensure that the material did not fall into the wrong hands.

The administration will now review its processes.

“It’s possible that the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration should have better control right up until everything is scrapped,” said Svensson.

Reference is made in the investigation to a container fully loaded with gun barrels which was exported as scrap to a country in Asia. Prosecutor Torsten Angervåg strongly criticised the fact that the army does not have control over its munitions.

Andreas Ekman, the director general of the Inspectorate of Strategic Products, told TT that no export licence had been granted. He stressed the importance of checks on any companies involved in dealing with military items.

“Ultimately, of course, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration is responsible, but others will have to judge the legalities,” said Ekman.

TT/The Local