German gunmaker Sig Sauer has been accused of illegally exporting 36,000 pistols to Colombia in violation of export regulations. Prosecutors have demanded the weapons manufacturer pays a €12-million ($14.8 million) fine.
The trial of German arms producer Sig Sauer began at the Kiel District Court in northern Germany on Tuesday. Three former executives are accused of being involved with the delivery of guns worth €270 million ($306 million) to Colombia without the necessary authorizations.
The accused face up to five years in prison if convicted and the prosecution is also demanding the company pay a €12-million fine.
Prosecutors said Sig Sauer manufactured at least 38,000 pistols in the company's facility in the town of Eckernforde between 2009 and 2011. It then shipped the weapons to its US company in New Hampshire, which then completed the transaction with Colombia.
The pistols ended up in the hands of Colombian police, a spokesman for the Kiel prosecutor said, after the men were charged in April.
Sig Sauer said in a statement it remained firmly convinced its "exports to the United States have always complied with the law."
L&O Holding, a conglomerate based in Germany, owns both the German and US-based Sig Sauer companies, as well as a third firm, Swiss Arms. The companies appear to operate as independent entities.
The trial is scheduled to conclude in late June.
Last week, a German court found arms-maker Heckler & Koch guilty of similar export-related charges involving a sale of weapons to Mexico.
Read more: German arms exports: What you need to know
kw/jm (dpa, AFP)