Swiss man sentenced for nukes smuggling

2008-02-06 00:00

A sentence of 13 years’ imprisonment, conditionally suspended for five years, was imposed by the Pretoria High Court yesterday on a 69-year-old Swiss citizen residing in Randburg, Daniel Geiges, for his role in the illegal manufacture, import and export of nuclear equipment.

His conviction is the second secured by the South African authorities in connection with an international nuclear smuggling operation, which supplied Libyan and Pakistani nuclear weapons programmes.

Geiges was sentenced by Judge Willem van der Merwe after entering into a plea bargain with the National Prosecuting Authority, in terms of which he pleaded guilty to five contraventions and undertook to co-operate fully with South African authorities by providing a full disclosure of his knowledge of nuclear proliferation related activities.

He also agreed to the confiscation of the proceeds of his crimes, in the form of 50 000 Euros and 74 255 Swiss francs, currently frozen by the Swiss authorities.

Geiges — a former co-director of Krisch Engineering in Randburg along with Gerhard Wisser (66), who was handed an 18-year suspended sentence and ordered to undergo three years’ correctional supervision for similar crimes in September last year — is terminally ill with cancer according to court papers.

The fact that he has an extremely short life expectancy was a significant factor which influenced the state not to argue that direct imprisonment be imposed on him.

Geiges was arrested in September 2004, held in custody for about three months then put under house arrest.

The NPA said it welcomed the decision of the Pretoria High Court to endorse the plea and sentence agreement in respect of Geiges, and regards the conviction as a further significant step in combating nuclear proliferation networks.

The NPA said it was thankful for the assistance of various state departments and foreign governments of USA, UK, Malaysia, Switzerland, Spain and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the matter.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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