Guatemalan army admits theft of 1,400 grenades

Guatemala City, Sep 24 (IANS/EFE) The Guatemalan military acknowledged Monday that 1,449 grenades were stolen from an army base in the northern part of the country.

The grenades, for use with M-79 assault rifles, disappeared from the armory of the First Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces Air Command, a defence ministry spokesperson told reporters.

Military authorities noticed the fact that the grenades were missing "during a review" conducted sometime in the first quarter of 2012, Col. Erick Escobar said.

The situation was reported to the attorney general's office in March and military authorities carried out "an internal investigation... that ended with the administrative sanction of the people who were found to be responsible" for the weapons, the spokesperson said.

The army did not specify the identities of the people allegedly responsible for the incident or the punishment imposed upon them.

The grenades were stolen when the base was under the command of Gens. Juventino Saavedra and Rudy Ortiz Ruiz, El Periodico daily said.

Ortiz Ruiz is currently chief of the defence general staff.

A person with the AG's office said Monday that "there is no available information" about this case.

Escobar said that "the army is cooperating at all times with the information that is required and...in what is being requested of it and in what it has knowledge of."

--IANS/EFE

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