Lithuania has blamed “miscommunication” for the illegal sale of valuable M14 rifles donated by the US to its army in 1999.
Eight guns were handed over by the US which were then sold on to enthusiasts from the paramilitary Lithuanian riflemen union for only 350 euros. Under a 2002 agreement it is against the law to sell US military rifles to a third party….Washington wants an explanation and Lithuania’s interior ministry is trying to get them back
Jonas Salavejus is the interim director of the Lithuanian Weaponry Fund which comes under the ministry of the interior:
“These guns are original, they probably date back to the Vietnam War. The buyers are trying to prove to us that they have collector’s value of between 10 to 25 thousand dollars. Well, you know… For sure, the state cannot pay such amount of money and of course an agreement is impossible, so the matter is going to court.”
Five of the rifles have been returned but the owners of the other three are holding out for compensation.
M14s are used for ceremonial purposes by the Lithuanian army although the country’s president was seen test firering one in 2009.
Lithuania maintains that the sale of the rifles took place before the 2002 agreement was signed and should not apply.