Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wildlife thieves planned to sell haul on Internet

22 Jul, 2008, 1652 hrs IST, AFP

KOLKATA: Two Czech scientists arrested in India for stealing rare butterfly and insect species were planning to sell them on the Internet, an official said on Tuesday.

Emil Kucera, 52, and Petr Svacha, 51, were arrested last month at a hotel in Darjeeling in eastern India where officials say they were caught with more than 50 species of butterflies and rare insects, captured from a national park.

The pair appeared in court on Monday and were denied bail, assistant divisional forest officer Utpal Nag said, adding that their next court appearance was set for July 23.

"We have received copies of material downloaded by them from the Internet that reveal their intention," he said, adding that Svacha had posted a note online offering to sell the butterflies for a specified price.

"They are not as ignorant as they claim. A pen drive seized from the two Czech nationals contains the map of the Singalllia National Park where they were collecting insects and butterflies," Nag said.

The pair, who deny the charges, have received support from the international scientific community and a petition with more than 500 signatures demanding their release has been presented to the Indian prime minister.


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