19:39 GMT +315 December 2019
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    FILE - In this June 5, 2014 file photo G36 rifles of manufacturer Heckler&Koch stand in front of soldiers in Sigmaringen, southern Germany

    Reporters May Face Trial for Revealing Berlin's Role in 'Network of Death'

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    In their book "Network of Death", three German journalists revealed illegal arms supplies from Germany to Mexico. However, instead of being praised for their efforts, all three of them may face a court trial on alleged breach of the German Press Act and disclosure of secret information.

    The book written by German journalists Daniel Harrich, Danuta Harrich-Sandberg und Jürgen Grässlin revealed illegal arms supplies by German company Heckler & Koch to Mexico. It turned out that the weapons — G36 assault rifles made by the firm — appeared in the Mexican states of Guerrero and Chihuahua, although the supplies to these states were prohibited by German authorities.

    In 2005, the German regulatory agency allowed the delivery of 9,000 assault rifles to Mexico between 2006 and 2009 on the condition that they won't be available in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Jalisco, Chiapas and Chihuahua.

    However, it recently became known that the arms not only leaked to these territories, but were also allegedly used during the assault on Ayotzinapa students on September 26, where six people were killed, 25 injured and 43 disappeared.

    In their book, journalists not only revealed the fact that the German company illegally delivered G36 assault rifles to Mexico, but also accused German authorities of negligence and complicity in the deal.

    "In our latest book, […] we've published highly sensitive documents as proof for our assumptions that not only Heckler & Koch is responsible for this, but also the Federal Office on Export and the Federal Ministry of Economics," Grässlin said in an interview with Sputnik.

    According to the journalist, both authorities made the deliveries to Mexico possible, although the German Foreign Ministry had initially prohibited the supply of weapons to the country. In 2010, Grässlin filed an application with a request to start an investigation into the case, but as a result only employees of the company, and none of the authorities were prosecuted.

    "The Stuttgart public prosecution office still refuses to prosecute those in the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Export Office responsible and co-responsible for it, and this is a scandal," Grässlin said.

    Instead, surprisingly, the Munich public prosecution office is currently considering an option to prosecute journalists themselves.

    Under paragraph 353d of the Criminal Code, the journalists might be charged with "violation of professional and special secrecy". The law prohibits disclosing messages, documents or any other information from a criminal case. The violation is punishable with a fine or imprisonment of up to one year.

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    arms supplies, prosecution, journalists, Germany
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