“They marketed horses that for several years had been given venoms, harmful substances. Trafficking has put meat prohibited for consumption on consumers’ plates, it’s not more complicated than that. » denouncing “massive and organized fraud”deputy prosecutor Jean-Yves Lourgouilloux requested, on Tuesday January 24, the conviction of twenty-one of the twenty-five defendants tried since January 9 by the Marseille criminal court, for having deceived the butchers of Occitanie and their customers on the quality of the horse meat they sold and consumed between 2011 and 2013.
Horse breeders, beaters, chevillards, veterinarians and even a counterfeiter, “everyone had a hand in this fraud”, estimated the head of the public health department of the Marseille prosecutor’s office. A sentence of three years in prison, including one year, and a fine of 20,000 euros were demanded against Patrick Rochette, a horsemeat wholesaler based in Narbonne (Aude), described as the “central character” folder.
Now retired, he has always admitted to having introduced culled horses from the Sanofi-Pasteur farm-laboratory in Alba-la-Romaine (Ardèche), which have been strictly prohibited for consumption since 2004, into the food industry. sent to the Narbonne slaughterhouse or to Spain, it replaced the drug treatment sheet stamped with a red stamp indicating “definitely removed from human consumption” by a blank document.
“Obvious health dimension”
“Never, in my head, did I think of poisoning someone”, he explained to the judges. A toxicological expertise ruled out any health risk from the consumption of Sanofi horses, but, corrected Mr. Lourgouilloux, “for the other horses, whose traceability has been blurred by documentary fraud, we don’t know”. In the eyes of the magistrate, “The facts remain serious, with an obvious health dimension”.
Key players in animal control and identification, eight veterinarians were on trial for inserting blank drug treatment sheets into horse passports, or signing health certificates for the export of animals they had not seen. For four of them, the prosecutor admitted not “not being certain that we are switching from professional shortcomings to fraudulent intent”, and he asked the court to release them.
For the other four veterinarians, suspended sentences of three to six months in prison for forgery were requested, because “These professionals hold an important place in this file, where if you remove a single link, the network does not work”. The defendants spoke of the chaotic implementation of European regulations adopted in 2008 to guarantee the safety of horse meat.
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