Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 02:27 GMT 03:27 UK
Swiss 'secret army' scandal
Defence Minister Adolf Ogi - "unimaginable" consequences
The head of Switzerland's secret service has been suspended as part of an investigation into a multi-million dollar fraud and the discovery of a huge cache of arms.
The scandal has led to widespread speculation of a high-level connection to organised crime or even the setting up of a secret army.
He said he had suspended military intelligence chief Peter Regli with immediate effect at his own request because Mr Regli "did not want to stand in the way of the Investigation."
Mr Ogi said the arms discovery followed the arrest earlier this month of an accountant in the intelligence service, Dino Bellasi, who has been accused of embezzling over 8.5million Swiss francs ($5m) from the defence department.
One Sunday newspaper, Sonntagsblick, said Bellasi had links with the Serbian secret services and the arms were destined for a secret intervention force being created within the Swiss army.
But Mr Regli, who was also present at the news conference, denied the reports. "Bellasi has put out an enormous, grotesque web of lies," he said. "Why would we need a secret army?"
Swiss politicians have been questioning how such a scandal could have come about in the secret service, which only employs about 130 people, without the knowledge of senior officials.
There have been calls for a fullscale parliamentary inquiry.