Slovaks break suspected nuclear trafficking ring

by Reuters
Thursday, 15 December 2011 14:09 GMT

BRATISLAVA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A gang of seven people nicknamed "the Pensioners' Club" have been arrested in Slovakia on suspicion of trying to smuggle radioactive material and sell it in neighbouring Czech Republic, Slovak police said on Thursday.

The police did not identify the nuclear material but said it was due to arrive from the former Soviet Union, without elaborating.

The group, called the "Pensioners' Club" in the joint Czech and Slovak police operation, was led by a 71-year-old man. The suspects, six Slovaks and a Czech citizen, were apprehended on Nov. 23 and Dec. 2, Slovak police said.

Police charged the seven with possesion of radioactive material and an attempt to sell the substance in the Czech Republic.

"Since February, we had been monitoring an organised group interested in trade with nuclear material worth 500,000 euros," (${esc.dollar}648,000), Slovak police chief Jaroslav Spisiak told reporters.

"The result is that this material was not imported into Slovakia or the Czech republic."

A former Soviet satellite that joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the euro in 2009, Slovakia seized low-enriched uranium in 2007, but authorities said the amount was too small to use in any kind of explosive device. (Reporting by Martin Santa; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)

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