A Montenegrin man caught in Germany with arms in his car has admitted being a gun runner, but denied knowing of any attack plans. His arrest occurred shortly before deadly Islamist attacks in the French capital.
The Montenegrin man, named by prosecutors only as Vlatko V. in line with Germany's privacy laws, went on trial in the southern city of Munich on Friday charged with intending to smuggle weapons to Paris for use in a serious but unspecified act of violence.
At the opening of the proceedings, the 51-year-old man admitted acting as a gun runner, but said he had no knowledge of the intended use of the weapons he was transporting.
The accused was stopped on November 5 by police on the motorway between Salzburg and Munich while traveling in a car containing an arsenal of weapons including eight Kalashnikov assault rifles, pistols, hand grenades, explosives and detonators. The destination of Paris had been entered in the navigation system in the car.
'No established links with Paris attacks'
His arrest occurred just days before Islamist militants launched a series of coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris, killing 130 people. Some of the weapons used in the attacks came from the region of former Yugoslavia, to which Montenegro belongs. The area remains awash with arms even years after the conflicts that followed Yugoslavia's breakup, with many weapons arriving in western Europe along smuggling routes through the Balkans.
The spokeswoman for the Munich court, Andrea Titz, said that although the number of weapons had led prosecutors to suspect that they were intended for use in a specific attack, a link to the November 13 assaults was "questionable."
"At present, no link can be established," she said, adding that Vlatko V. was likely to receive a reduced jail sentence of between three years and nine months and four years and three months owing to his confession.
The trial is due to run until Friday next week.
tj/jil (Reuters, dpa)