Man jailed for Azerbaijan arms bid


An arms dealer who sold one of the guns used in the Hungerford massacre was jailed today for trying to export arms to Azerbaijan.

Michael Ranger, 65, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for setting up a deal to sell missiles and handguns to the former Soviet country, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

There is a ban on exporting arms to Azerbaijan that has been in place since 1992.

Ranger used false email accounts and a company registered in Hong Kong in his girlfriend's name to cover his tracks, the CPS said.

Elspeth Pringle, an arms brokering lawyer for the CPS, said: "Michael Ranger is an established international arms dealer who knew full well that a licence for supplying weapons to Azerbaijan would be impossible to obtain.

"Central to the case was whether Ranger intended to evade bans on supplying arms to Azerbaijan. The court heard that in email correspondence with his arms supplier in North Korea, Ranger boasted that he had been a guest of the Azerbaijani government and was driven round in a Lexus limousine while on business there to discuss the supply of Man-Portable Infrared Homing Surface to Air Missiles.

"It also heard how he told the US manufacturers of Berettas pistols that he had secured orders from the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations following a meeting with 'two people directly under the President' in February 2010.

"Arms embargoes are in place for a reason and those who seek to ignore them in the hope of lining their own pocket should understand that they are liable to prosecution in the criminal courts."

Ranger tried to source the arms from suppliers in the US and North Korea to sell on to Azerbaijan.

He runs a company called Imperial Defence Services, and sold one of the legally licensed guns that Michael Ryan used in the Hungerford massacre.

Ryan killed 16 people including his mother in the town in Berkshire in 1987, when he went on the rampage with two weapons.

He committed suicide at the end of the mass shooting.