Top officials of the Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd, an Israeli arms manufacturer, on Wednesday were summoned to a hearing by Israel’s State Attorney’s office, which said it intends to indict the company for allegedly using an armed kamikaze drone against Artsakh targets last year under orders from Baku during a live demonstration of its product, the Orbiter 1K model UAV.
According to The Times of Israel, Wednesday’s announcement comes after a nearly year-long joint investigation of the Israel Police’s Unit of International Crime Investigations, the Defense Ministry’s investigation unit and the State Attorney’s Office into Aeronautics’s conduct.
A statement announcing the subpoenas said the members of the company are suspected of fraud as well as other violations of the Defense Export Control Law, which protects against unauthorized exports of defense intelligence and equipment.
The Artsakh Army said that Azerbaijan used a suicide drone to attack its positions in northeastern Artsakh around July 7, 2017. According to Colonel Armen Gyozalian of the Artsakh Army, two soldiers were injured during that attack.
Official Baku has boasted its reported purchase of $5 billion in arms from Israel, which were used on Artsakh targets during the April 2016 war, when a Harop aircraft, manufactured by the Israel Aerospace Industries, hit a bus and killed seven Armenians on board.
Among those from Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd summoned to appear before the State Attorney’s Office’s Economics Division are the company’s CEO Amos Matan, deputy CEO Meir Rizmovitch, development director Haim Hivashar and marketing director David Goldin.
Aeronautics released a statement responding to the hearing summonses, saying: “We are convinced that after we first present our position at the hearing, the State Prosecutor’s Office will reach an informed decision that there is no reason to put the company or any of its officers in court and will order the case closed.”
After Israel’s Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Controls Agency halted Aeronautics’ export license for its Orbiter 1K model UAV, an investigation into the company was launched, with a gag order placed on the details of the probe.
Aeronautics was poised to make a $20 million deal over the next two years with Azerbaijan.
According to The Times of Israel such a test would be illegal under Israeli law, as it would require a seldom-granted permit to carry out demonstrations against real targets. In this case, Aeronautics Defense Systems would be even less likely to receive such a permit, as Israel does not consider Armenia to be an enemy state.