An investigation by state-owned France 24 TV has found evidence that shotgun cartridges manufactured by a French-Italian manufacturer have been used in the brutal crackdown on nationwide anti-government protests in Iran.
In an apparent violation of EU sanctions, shotgun cartridges using Cheddite components have been widely used for hunting purposes in Iran since at least 2011, said France 24 Observers, a website and TV program focusing on international news through the lens of amateur images.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the September death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. The unrest triggered a heavy-handed clampdown by security forces in which more than 400 people were killed, including dozens of children. Thousands of people have also been arrested.
France 24 Observers has asked Iranians to send photos and videos of ammunition recovered from demonstrations repressed by security forces.
The team analyzed more than 100 images showing tear gas canisters, rifle bullets, paintball projectiles and cartridges from shotguns, which have been widely used by security forces in their deadly crackdown on the protest movement.
Thirteen shotgun cartridges said to have been recovered from eight Iranian cities bore logos of French-Italian manufacturer Cheddite, France 24 Observers said. The cities are Tehran, Yazd, Mahabad, Shiraz, Karaj, Rasht, Sanandaj and Kamyaran.
The report quoted two ballistics experts as saying that the cartridges appeared to have been manufactured by Cheddite.
With factories in both France and Italy, Cheddite manufactures empty cartridges with plastic casings and metal bases. These cartridges are sold to other manufacturers, which fill them with explosive powder and projectiles such as pellets.
Since April 2011, the EU prohibits the "export, directly or indirectly, [of] equipment which might be used for internal repression" in Iran, including "firearms, ammunition and related accessories."
Sanctions experts told France 24 Observers that the ban extends to shotgun shells and their components, regardless of their intended usage.
France 24 said Cheddite had not responded to its multiple requests for information about exports of its products to Iran and Turkey. Iranian security forces use Turkish-made shotguns, and experts say the country is known as a staging post for avoiding arms embargoes.