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Former Swiss police employee accused of selling weapons via darknet

·2-min read

ZURICH (Reuters) - The former chief of logistics for a regional Swiss police force appeared in court on Thursday accused of falsely buying guns and bullets on behalf of his employer and selling them via the darknet.

Prosecutors allege that the man, who has not been identified, ordered weaponry and ammunition when he worked for the cantonal police in Schywz, a mountainous canton near Zurich. The darknet is part of the internet often used by criminals for illegal activities.

Swiss police investigating the case recovered 80 guns and tens of thousands of bullets when they searched his home during the investigation. Court documents did not say to whom the weaponry was sold.

The 58-year-old, a civilian law enforcement employee, had ordered the material on behalf of police but instead used them for his own private benefit, court documents said.

In the case, whose proceedings at the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona began on Thursday, the defendant is also accused of selling a "large number of weapons without authorisation to various persons" between 2012 and 2013.

He is accused of having offered the weapons through a darknet account and having worked with an accomplice who has since been prosecuted in Germany.

He denies the charges.

Swiss broadcaster SRF said the accused handed over the weapons, which included automatic rifles and pistols, to his accomplice in a garbage bag at his home. The accomplice, it said, then drove the material to a car park on a mountain road where the sales took place.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) launched the case against the man in 2018 after getting information from Germany. The OAG said the accused had made a profit of 180,000 Swiss francs ($195,000) from the transactions.

A two-day hearing began on Thursday, with an verdict expected on April 22.

($1 = 0.9251 Swiss francs)

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Mark Heinrich)