Italian police reportedly arrested four men for smuggling arms to Libya, Iran

Annamaria Fontana with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Italian police arrested four people on Tuesday on suspicion of smuggling arms, including helicopters and surface-to-air missiles, into Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015 in violation of international embargoes, Malta Today said Italian media reported.

According to La Repubblica, three Italians – couple Mario Di Leva and Annamaria Fontana, and legal representative for Rome-based Società Italiana Elicotteri Andrea Pardi, was already involved in another investigation on arms trafficking and recruitment of mercenaries between Italy and Somalia – and a Libyan national, Mohamud Ali Shaswish, are accused of smuggling air ambulances and weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles and anti-tank missiles to Libya and Iran between 2011 and 2015. The air ambulances were then converted into military helicopters, La Repubblica reported.

Reuters news agency, however reported that the three Italians have been arrested while police were still looking for the Libyan man.

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

Reportedly, investigations are focusing on the possible trafficking of arms destined to a group which supports ISIS in Libya.

Di Leva is said to have converted to Islam and changes his name to Jafaar, and is allegedly being investigated for suspected radicalisation.

Prosecutors have in their possession a picture of the couple with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, La Repubblica also reported.

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