Swiss senate says yes to Sweden’s Gripen jets

The Swiss senate voted on Wednesday to release 3.13 billion Swiss francs ($3.4 billion) to buy 22 Swedish fighter jets, following suit after the lower house approved the plan.

Swiss senate says yes to Sweden's Gripen jets

With 27 votes for and 17 against, the upper-house Council of States agreed to release funds to buy 22 of Saab’s Gripen JAS-39 combat jets, breathing new life into the controversial deal after it fell one vote shy of senate funding approval in March.

The deal will now likely be put to a popular vote as part of Switzerland’s direct democratic system.

Left-wing politicians have promised a referendum, though Wednesday’s vote means a popular ballot would concern only funding for the planes, and not the deal itself.

The deal has run into problems in Switzerland over concerns about the spending cuts it will entail in other areas.

Nearly two-thirds of those polled for a survey published Sunday said they were opposed to the Gripen purchase, and 60 percent said they did not want the Swiss government to buy any new fighter jets at all.

The deal is part of a larger order for the planes to be shared with Sweden in a bid to cut production costs.

AFP/The Local/og

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.