Defense attache charged with pulling double duty for Swiss arms maker
The arms dealer, Heinrich Thomet, owns a weapons manufacturing company that supplies security equipment to the Swiss army and police.
A former IDF attache in Switzerland was indicted yesterday for taking bribes and breach of trust.
Colonel (Res. ) Shmuel Avivi, who headed the Defense Ministry mission in Switzerland in 2002-2005, has been charged with acting in the interests of a Swiss arms dealer and helping him to market security products in exchange for perks.
The arms dealer, Heinrich Thomet, owns a weapons manufacturing company that supplies security equipment to the Swiss army and police. Other companies he owns supply security equipment purchased in Eastern Europe to the U.S. military in Iraq.
The indictment says Avivi contacted Thomet at the beginning of his term as military attache and asked him to market Israel's defense industries' products to Switzerland. Over time Avivi began helping Thomet forge ties in Israel's defense industries and sell them security equipment he manufactured.
Avivi did not report these acts to his superiors nor did he obtain their authorization to make them.
Among other things Avivi is charged with organizing a conference for foreign military attaches in Switzerland, at which Thomet presented firearms manufactured exclusively in his factory. He also helped Thomet set up two companies in Israel, with the intention of buying and selling arms to the American army in Iraq, via an American firm.
In another case Avivi attended the negotiations of Thomet's companies with defense industry officials while still serving as military attache.
On two occasions Avivi passed on weapons manufactured by Thomet to defense industry officials. Once he gave a silencer Thomet's company manufactured to (res. ) commander Alik Ron so the latter could market it to the Yamam police anti-terror unit.
On another occasion Avivi enlisted Ron's services to advance Thomet's business in Israel. In exchange he received a Land Cruiser SUV worth about NIS 300,000 and a payment of some NIS 100,000 in the guise of a salary for his wife.
In October 2005, two months after ending his term as military attache, Avivi was appointed CEO of one of Thomet's companies.
Avivi's attorney said they had shown at a hearing that there were no grounds to indict him.
"My client will have to fight to prove his innocence in court. We are convinced all the prosecution's arguments will be refuted in court," the attorney said.