Wed. 14 Feb 2007
The Daily Telegraph
Austria yesterday washed its hands of any responsibility after it was revealed that powerful sniper rifles it sold to Iran had been acquired by insurgents in Iraq.
The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that American troops had recovered more than 100 Steyr HS50 Mannlicher rifles, part of a consignment of 800 sold to Iran by Austria last year, during a series of raids in Iraq.
Astrid Harz, a spokesman for the Austrian foreign ministry, said yesterday that the sale had been "checked very thoroughly" and what happened to the rifles after they were delivered to Teheran ostensibly for use by border police was not the responsibility of her government. It was the responsibility of the Iranians, she said. Franz Holzschuh, Steyr's chief executive, said the company had not been contacted by anyone officially to verify the serial numbers on the rifles. He said it was possibile that the weapons were copies.