Prague - Czech entomologists arrested in Darjeeling, India at the end of June for what the Indian authorities called an illegal bug collection were sentenced to three years in prison. One of the scientists Petr Švácha informed Aktuálně.cz.
"The court practically upheld all the arguments of the prosecution. Even those most absurd or completely groundless. Then they suggested a sentence of three years in jail and a fine of roughly 10,000 rupees," Švácha stated.
Although the court officially ruled on Thursday 4 September, it was publicly announced four days later, on Monday 8 September.
Next hearing will take place on Wednesday 10 when the defence will present an appeal.
"The judge can grant us a pardon and release us immediately based on the appeal, or he can assert the previous ruling. In that case, we would appeal to a higher instance court in Darjeeling. The case will probably drag on, though," Švácha said.
On Monday, Czech ambassador to India Hynek Kmoníček said on public service Czech Television that the situation looked promising and that the worst case scenario was the scientists would be sentenced to three months in prison.
The Czech entomologists are accused of smuggling more than 200 rare species of bugs and larvae out of the country without a permission and also of an unauthorized insect collection for commercial purposes in the Singalila National Park.
However, both men claim they didn't collect the bugs for commercial purposes and that they did not enter the national park.
The key evidence of the prosecution was an alleged testimony signed by Kučera and Švácha. Their defence lawyer claims though that the document is a forgery, as the men had been asked to sign the blank sheets of paper under a false pretext.
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