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Defense Minister comments on new Arms-Theft Scandal

Georgian security and Interior Ministry forces launched a raid on 21 October on an artillery base in Dedoplistsqaro after police detained several trucks containing guns from that base that had been illegally sold for scrap metal, Georgian media reported.

An investigation showed that arms have been stolen and sold from the base regularly in recent months.

Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze told journalists later on 22 October that such thefts are tantamount to treason, Caucasus Press reported.

Earlier this month a former department head with the Georgian armed forces General Staff was arrested and remanded in pretrial custody for three months in connection with the disappearance of an unspecified number of Strela-2 antiaircraft missiles (the Soviet counterpart to the U.S.-produced Stinger missile), Caucasus Press reported on 4 October.

(RFE/RL 22.x.04)

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