Since May 2016, employees of the arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch have had to testify at the regional court in Stuttgart in legal proceedings concerning the shipment of Type G36 rifles to Mexico. The court investigates whether between 2006 and 2009, Heckler & Koch sold rifles to the police in the Mexican state of Guerrero even though the export might not have been authorized by Germany. The case against Heckler & Koch is especially notable because of a police operation in the town of Iguala on the night of 27 September 2014 when security forces attacked college students at Ayotzinapa.
During the police operation, seven students from Ayotzinapa were killed and 43 were forcefully "disappeared" and allegedly handed over to a criminal syndicate. There is still no trace of the students. Many other students were left injured, among them Aldo Gutiérrez Solano who has been in a coma ever since. Mexican investigators found out that at least seven policemen used G36 rifles that originated from non-authorized exports.
In September 2016, ECCHR requested access to the case files of the Stuttgart proceedings on behalf of Gutiérrez Solano, whose interests are represented by his parents. This marked a first step towards justice for those affected by the export of these German arms. ECCHR's intervention aims to highlight that legal proceedings against arms exporters must concern more than just German trade law.
The regional court of Stuttgart rejected the request to access the case files. As a result the proceedings in Stuttgart will not take into account the specific concerns of some of those affected by arms exports in the recipient countries. This decision also dashes hopes of using information from the criminal action in a possible civil claim against Heckler & Koch or in the current proceedings against police and government officials in Mexico.