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Arms dealer under scrutiny

STATE authorities are looking into a Slovak firm that was recently named by the British newspaper The Sunday Times as an exporter of arms to embargoed states.

According to a recent issue of the The Sunday Times, the Slovak arms trading firm Petina International, following an initial inquiry by the newspaper's undercover reporter Brian Thomas, provided him with an offer to supply an unidentified number of missiles to be shipped to embargoed Rwanda.

The preliminary offer sent to Thomas by Petina's business director, Michal Kvanta, allegedly quoted a sum of Ł27,000 per Iglu missile.

The head of Petina International, Peter Peniaška, said that the case was a provocation, and that his firm was considering filing suit against the paper.

Ondrej Varačka, head of the Economy Ministry's section that oversees trading with sensitive materials, including arms, told the Slovak daily SME that the ministry was looking into the allegations.

"We have requested that Petina International provide us with all materials related to the case," Varačka said.

According to Amnesty International, however, the Petina case illustrates the failures of the existing system of arms trading controls in Slovakia.

But Peniaška defended his firm and said that drawing up an initial offer does not mean that a deal will be concluded.

"Drawing up a price offer does not amount to anything," Peniaška said. He added that for any arms export to take place, a list of authorities must approve the deal, including the foreign, defence, interior, and economy ministries, intelligence authorities, and the National Security Office (NBÚ).

Economy Minister Pavol Rusko suggested illegal arms trading was a matter of the past in this central European state.

"If anything like that happened, it was in the past," he said.

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