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Italy police arrest three suspected of running arms trafficking ring

ROME Three Italians were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling helicopters and surface-to-air missiles into Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015 in violation of international embargoes, police said.

They said in a statement that those arrested included a 51-year-old Italian man who headed a Rome-based helicopter repair company and an Italian husband-and-wife couple from the Naples area.

Police were still looking for a Libyan man.

The three Italians and the Libyan were accused of smuggling military helicopters and weapons such as surface-to-air missiles and anti-tank missiles to Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015.

The military equipment was manufactured in the ex-Soviet bloc and shipped from third countries, including Ukraine and Tunisia, the police said.

The Rome company also exported so-called “dual use” industrial equipment – which could be used for both military and civilian purposes – without authorisation from Italian ministries.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

-Reuters