Court martial for SAS soldier
A 200-gram block of the explosive semtex fell out of a blanket during a search of a soldier's private property a court-martial heard today.
Military policeman Sergeant Robert Burt told the court-martial at Papakura Camp that the search party jumped as the block fell to the ground in the car garage of the accused Special Air Services soldier.
It has been under a blanket.
Burt said they immediately stopped the search fearing it would explode, but they were told it did not have a detonator in it.
The accused soldier, who was present during the search, told the MPs "it was the last time he would leave his garage unlocked," Burt said.
He described searching the soldier's quarters in the SAS's Rennie Lines and finding a US military issued M14 rifle with a suppressor, under a couch.
The SAS soldier told them he had a firearms licence.
"He said we caught him at a bad time, he was trying to sell the firearm," Burt said.
The searchers also found in the room was a bag containing 46 needles and 10 empty bottles in a bag., smallarms ammunition and thunder-flashes.
The search was made after allegations were made the soldier was trying to sell Defence Force property to Serious Shooters Ltd, a gun shop in Great South Road, Penrose, Auckland in April last year.
The items included a charging handle or cocking aid for an M4 rifle, a pistol holster and JPoint weapon sights that enhance aiming on pistols.
The soldier's defence, Melinda Mason, has put it to a senior witness that the material involved may have come from a disposal bin at the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan, where the soldier had visited.
She also put to witnesses a claim that SAS soldiers had bought their own charging handles as the standard issue equipment was inadequate.
Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces Christopher Hodson said it was "desirable, indeed essential" the identities of special forces soldiers be suppressed.
A panel of three officers will consider the soldier's guilt or innocence.
The hearing is likely to take three days.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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