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Military officers sentenced for selling weapons to Croatia

The Martial Court has sentenced two retired generals to prison terms for trafficking weapons to Croatia in 1991, when the former Yugoslavian republic was under a United Nations weapons embargo.

The daily La Nacion reported today that former army general Guillermo Letelier, then director of the army’s weapons manufacturer FAMAE, and retired air force general Vicente Rodriguez were sentenced to three years in prison for having illegally sold weapons to Croatia.

The 36 crates of weapons were discovered in Budapest, Hungary, aboard a plane from Chile’s Military Hospital that supposedly carried humanitarian aid. It made a stop in Panama and then Miami, and from there flew to Eastern Europe, awakening suspicion from U.S. authorities and sounding alarms in Europe.

The court found that the illegal sale was ordered by then-president Augusto Pinochet, as Commander in Chief of the army. At the time, it was not investigated fully, and only a few years ago did the case reopen, after testimonies on the murder of an army officer related to the operation provided new evidence.

Another five officers and three associates were given light sentences and exempted from prison terms.