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Germany Trying To Determine If Shipment Had Military Use

September 2, 1991

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Investigators seized machinery bound for Libya at Hamburg harbor and were trying to determine if it was intended to help Moammar Gadhafi build rockets, officials said Monday.

German authorities stressed there was no indication the company, Fritz Werner, was guilty of wrongdoing and the company itself denied the charges.

The machinery - an industrial oven and a fiber-wrapping machine - was to be shipped on a Libya-registered freighter, said Hans-Josef Blumensatt, chief prosecutor in Wiesbaden.

The offices of Fritz Werner, owner of the shipment, also were searched and documents confiscated after the machinery was seized July 16, Blumensatt said.

Officials at Fritz Werner, which is based in Geisenheim, near Wiesbaden, declared their innocence in a statement later Monday.

″At no time did Fritz Werner make deliveries - directly or indirectly - in Libya to the arms industry,″ the statement said.

It said Fritz Werner has been doing business for years with the ″Central Repair Workship″ in Tripoli, filling orders for replacement parts for vehicles, machines and electric motors.

″An indication that the workshop is of a civilian character is that it is freely accessible,″ the statement said.

Volker Franzen of the federal Economics Ministry said company officials also told investigators the equipment was for civilian use.

″We have to see what the equipment is intended for. The company itself is interested in clearing this up,″ said Franzen.

Franzen and Blumensatt said no evidence has been found proving the equipment was meant for military use. Franzen said no federal export permit is required for the machinery but investigators were trying to learn if it could have a military use.

The seizure followed a tip by unidentified ″intelligence sources″ that the goods could be intended for rocket production, Franzen said.

In late 1987, the United States alleged German firms helped build a poison gas factory in Libya for Gadhafi’s government. The German government initially denied the allegations, but later confirmed them and launched an inquiry that resulted in a prison term for one German businessman and the arrest of five others.

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