Investigators Name Two Other Companies In Documents Seizure
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Investigators today released the names of two more companies whose records were seized in a widening probe of suspected West German involvement in the building of a purported poison gas factory in Libya.
Investigators said they began evaluating the documents on Thursday.
″The process will take a long time,″ said Hubertus Voegele, a spokesman for the Offenburg prosecutor’s office, which is handling the investigation.
Customs authorities on Wednesday searched the offices of three firms and the homes of 12 individuals on suspicion that export laws had been violated.
One of the companies searched was Imhausen-Chemie, which is suspected of playing a major role in building the plant in Rabta, 60 miles south of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Voegele today said the two other firms are the Pen-Tsao shipping company in Hamburg and an Imhausen-Chemie subsidiary, the GFA company in Bochum.
Earlier this week, officials at the giant Siemens electrical company said GFA ordered equipment from them for a pharmaceutical plant in Hong Kong.
U.S. officials claim the plant in Rabta is intended to produce poison gas. Libya says it is a pharmaceutical factory.
West Germany’s Chemical Industry Association suspended Imhausen-Chemie’s membership pending the outcome of the investigation. Association President Helmut Sihler said the company’s membership had been suspended ″until the company had been cleared of allegations″ in the Libyan case. He said it was the first time the association had taken such action against a member company.
The current investigations are focusing on a West German law that requires an export license to ships arms, hazardous substances or components that can be used to produce them.
West Germany is the world’s fifth-largest supplier of arms, and it exports at least half of its chemical production.
Because of its dependence on raw material imports from sensitive regions and income from manufactured-goods exports, officials in Bonn have observed a less confrontational policy toward nations such as Libya and has avoided trade sanctions as a lever in political disputes.