A trafficker in European goldfinches, a protected species, was sentenced to six months in prison following his arrest at a flea market in Marseille. The criminal court, which ruled Thursday in immediate appearance, also issued a five-year ban on the sale of animals and protected species against him and confiscated the 8,500 euros found during his arrest two days earlier. The police had been alerted on Tuesday by activists from an animal rights association who had spotted the presence of this trafficker on the flea market, a hotspot for this traffic.
They had seized six elegant goldfinches including two mules – crossed with the canary – in a cage concealed by a sheet, as well as thirty-five Greek tortoises, dehydrated, tightly packed in a cardboard box. The man has admitted engaging in the resale of these protected species now threatened. He mentioned selling prices of 50 to 300 euros for turtles and 60 to 100 euros for birds, which seemed underestimated to specialists.
The trafficking of protected species and one of the most important, after drugs and weapons
Prized for its plumage and a very melodious song, the European goldfinch is endangered in the Maghreb and in sharp decline in metropolitan France where it is poached to end up in the hands of traffickers. “The trafficking of protected species and one of the most important, it comes after those of drugs and weapons”, pleaded Maître Mathieu Victoria, lawyer for the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) which is a party civil. The association was awarded 1,500 euros in damages.
Despite the defendant’s clean criminal record, the prosecutor had requested six months’ imprisonment, asking the court to pronounce a deterrent sentence. The LPO welcomed this severity “because if the criminal risk becomes greater than the benefit derived from this trafficking, this can actually make the players in this illegal market think,” said Maître Victoria.