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10 December 2023

Chile ex-generals convicted for Croatia arms deal


Chile's supreme court on Friday convicted two retired generals over charges they illegally trafficked weapons to Croatia in 1991 in violation of a UN arms embargo during a war in the former Yugoslavia.

Former air force general Vicente Rodriguez and ex-army general Hector Letelier were convicted of "illegal export of an arms shipment" along with four other former soldiers and three civilians, the court said in a statement.

The generals were found guilty of "the illegal export of a shipment of arms." Rodriguez was given a sentence of three years and one day. Letelier's sentence amounted to four-and-a-half years as it included an additional forgery charge. Both however were granted conditional release.

The shipment, which was disguised as humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, was intercepted in Hungary. The incident sparked a "serious diplomatic incident" for Chile at the time, the court said.

The UN arms embargo on Croatia was in place in 1991 as the former Yugoslavia descended into war.

Last year, former Argentine president Carlos Menem was cleared of charges that he orchestrated the smuggling of arms to Croatia and Ecuador in the 1990s.