Saturday, 17 May 2008

Trust blown to smithereens

The theft and sale of 10 rocket launchers was a betrayal of comrades and country.[Perhaps not necessarily true, what about boys and their toys? Money? Illegal and degrading wars? War crimes against humanity?]

THE words traitor and treason are [alledgedly] nowhere to be heard as the disgraced army captain Shane Malcolm Della-Vedova is given his marching orders by Judge Jonathon Williams: straight to jail for the next seven years.

He shows little emotion as he is led from the dock of Downing Centre District Court to begin his sentence, but an older female relative sitting next to Della-Vedova's wife and family weeps in the public gallery.

He will be stripped of his medals, including the one he was awarded for serving in [the illegal and degrading war in] Afghanistan in 2006, where he was auditing the ammunition supplies for Australian special forces troops fighting Taliban [indigenous resistance] rebels around Kandahar, including checking whether weapons such as the M1 66 millimetre rocket, used by infantry to attack bunkers and light armoured vehicles, had passed their use-by date.

Yet for almost five years this 46-year-old career soldier, who had risen from private to captain in 27 years of service, guarded a treasonable secret of which NSW major crime squad police had only heard initially by way of rumour and then idle talk in phone intercepts among criminals vying for control of Sydney's drug trade.

There had been talk on the streets since early 2000 that criminals and motorcycle gangs had gained access to military arms and munitions, including rocket launchers, but the Australian Defence Force long denied any breach of its weapons stockpile, saying its audit books accounted for weapons used in exercises and those that were meant to have been destroyed after passing their safe usage date.

Della-Vedova, a quiet, devoted father living at Wattle Grove, near the Holsworthy army base, was among the trusted, regarded as a committed soldier [who followed a lethal meme.] Yet to those who served with him and believed they knew him as a friend he has proved to be an enigma [to a lethal meme.]

By his own admission to NSW counter-terrorism police from Strike Force Ridgecrop, who arrested him in a raid on his home on April 4 last year, he was at the heart of one of Australia's greatest military security breaches: the theft and sale of 10 M1 single-shot rockets and launchers. Nine are still missing.

His downfall came not through intelligence gathering by counter-terrorism police but from officers attached to Task Force Gain (since renamed the Middle Eastern Crime Squad) investigating a series of bloody tit-for-tat drug-related shootings and murders in Sydney's south-west.

Phone intercepts had picked up suggestions that Adnan Darwiche, now serving a triple life sentence for murder, wanted to increase his armoury and that he and his cohorts had obtained at least one rocket and launcher. On offer to anyone with the cash were grenades, night vision goggles and bulletproof vests.

But there was nothing to verify the telephone talk until September 2006 when, in an unsuccessful attempt to have his life sentence reduced, Darwiche showed NSW Police one of two rockets and launchers he had purchased.

Army link to stolen weaponry The launcher was recovered in negotiations between police and Darwiche – the latter hoping for a reduction in his double life sentence for the murders of Ziad Razzak and Mervat Nemra at a Greenacre home in 2003.

The weapons had [allegedly] been written off as old ordnance destroyed from the army's stockpile near Muswellbrook in 2001.

The discovery and or [political scapegoating? Or more likely political climate of fear?] set in train a covert backtracking operation by NSW and federal counter-terrorism officers with the NSW Crime Commission to locate the source and reel in the outstanding weapons, a story that may not be fully told for some years because there are outstanding court matters [and it is a secret.]

It is [allegedly] a tale of treachery and greed involving a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang turned protected witness with the code name Harrington, an illegal gun dealer and a former relative by marriage of Della-Vedova, whose alleged criminal connections were used to pass on the launchers.

One of those involved, is [allegedly a] drug dealer called Milad Sande, 29, was shot dead at Malabar in an unrelated heroin deal with an alleged member of the Bandidos bikie gang who has connections to the Victorian drug cartel allegedly controlled by Tony Mokbel.

It was [allegedly] Sande who originally put the thought of profits to be made through the sale of military weapons into the ear of Della-Vedova's relative in 2003.

By then Della-Vedova had [allegedly] been keeping at least 10 rockets and launchers in the garage of his home. He later told arresting police he had overlooked them in the boot of his army vehicle when he returned on June 8, 2001, to Sydney from Muswellbrook, where he [allegedly] had spent the day blowing up other M1 rockets that were deemed out of date and unsafe.

It was a mistake; he simply forgot they were in the boot of his car, he later told investigators. He was scared he would be disciplined and even demoted and charged had he reported his oversight. There were at least 10, perhaps more: he could not remember the exact number.

He said the weapons were not functioning properly, and when he realised they were still in his possession he "didn't know what to do" and "just had a failure in utter logic".

He also told police he had not thought the weapons would reach terrorists' hands but would end up in "some stupid person's house up in the boondocks" as a trophy on their wall.

On Thursday Judge Williams refused to accept such an excuse when sentencing Della-Vedova to 10 years' jail with a non-parole period of seven years for the theft and sale of the weapons.

Della-Vedova, who faced a maximum 14 years, pleaded guilty to stealing the weapons between 2001 and 2003 and to selling them for $10,000.

Judge Williams said it was "extraordinarily difficult to believe that the 10 rockets and launchers could have been overlooked by Della-Vedova in the first place" and that Della-Vedova could have easily rectified the situation by handing them back to the army without significant recourse, or could have disposed of them another way.

"He decided to sell the rocket launchers instead of taking them to sea and dumping them," Judge Williams said. He said it was "wholly unbelievable, given that the world was still reeling from 9/11 terrorism", that Della-Vedova did not think the weapons would end up in the hands of terrorists.

[Also Politically Correct.]

Judge Williams rejected his claim that "Harrington" had wanted the rockets as a trophy.

"I also find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that Mr Della-Vedova wouldn't have had well in mind that these weapons … were more likely to be used for some criminal, terrorist-type activity," he said.

[Perhaps not necessarily true, what about boys and their toys?]

"He was either prepared to turn a blind eye to these probabilities or acted in reckless disregard of them."

[That's what boys with toys do. They don't imagine terrorism. In fact it was probably the farthest thing on his mind, but not the money?]

While he accepted Della-Vedova had performed dangerous duties on behalf of his country, Judge Williams said his crimes constituted a grave breach of the trust placed in him as a member of the Defence Force [Military force? Which is a lethal meme. The sooner we change that to a Humanitarian Aid Group the better.]

He also said the nine rockets and launchers still missing posed a serious terrorist threat and could also be used against Australian forces serving overseas and there was little chance of their being found. [Or posed? or still does pose??? A serious false flag operation?]


Rocket theft soldier gets 10 years
An Australian army captain who stole 10 rocket launchers and sold them to a man with [alleged] links to terrorism has been jailed for a maximum of 10 years.

Police probe rocket launcher claims
The NSW Opposition has accused the state's government of failing to act on warnings three years ago that rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPGs) were being sold illegally in Sydney.

Parliament 'target of rockets'
A terror suspect who allegedly bought five stolen army rocket launchers said he would use them to blow up "the nuclear place" and Parliament House, a Sydney court has been told.

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