Darjeeling, India - Two Czech citizens were arrested in India for collecting rare species of insects in Darjeeling national park.
This information was published by Indian daily The Statesman (www.thestatesman.net.)
Czech embassy in New Delhi confirmed to Aktuálně.cz the information about the arrests of biologists Emil Kučera (52) and Petr Švácha (51).
The men claim they were not familiar with the Indian wildlife law and collected the larvae of bugs and butterflies only for research.
Emil Kučera is a member of the Czech Entomological Society and Petr Švácha works at the Department of Entomology of the Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice, southern Bohemia.
Staying in jail
"The Indian authorities claim they collected the insect in a national park, but the scientists claim there were no signs marking it as such. According to the accused, there was some logging going on and cows were feeding on grass nearby," said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Zuzana Opletalová.
According to The Statesman's internet publication, Indian authorities seized the scientists´ equipment used for the bug collection and some of the specimen.
The server estimated the value of the specimen to be EUR 140-220 per piece.
The scientists were detained on Sunday, 22 June. The first hearing took place Monday and both men were refused release on bail.
The men are accused of violating the law on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which was signed by the Czech Republic in 1992.
"We have not been able to get in touch with the lawyer they were assigned. However, we are in contact with another Indian lawyer who is willing to take over the case. We don't know yet what penalty they are facing though," said spokesperson Opletalová
The next court hearing is to be held on 7 July.
Cases in past
Other Czech citizens have been "caught in the act" a number of times before: According to Czech press agency ČTK they were arrested and fined for illegal smuggling of animals and plants in Australia, South Africa, Mexico and Peru.
The case of former Olomouc´s University dean Čestmír Čihalík and employee of Czech Environment Inspection Organization Jindřich Šmiták grabbed the headlines in 2004.
Both men were arrested by New Zealand´s authorities in a national park for collecting rare species of plants out of the country. They both claimed they were unaware of picking a rare species of orchid, calling the incident a misunderstanding.