15 sentenced for illegal slaughter of horses unfit for human consumption

Alison Hird

Prison sentences of up to two years have been handed down to 15 French, Belgian and Dutch horsemeat industry professionals for introducing meat unfit for human consumption into the food chain.

At a hearing held at Marseille's criminal court on 18 June, defendants appeared before a magistrate charged mainly with aggravated deception and swindling within an organised gang.

On Wednesday, 58-year-old a Belgian horse trader Jean-Marc Decker – one of the most prominent in Europe – was sentenced by the Marseille court to four years in prison (two of which were suspended) and a fine of €100,000.

He has also been banned from any activity related to the horse industry for five years.

Decker was described by the prosecution as the "central element" of a vast fraud, having slaughtered a thousand horses at a municipal slaughterhouse in the southern French city of Alès, whose identification passports or drug treatment booklets had been falsified.

Horsemeat wholesaler facilitated criminal gang

Stijn De Visscher, a Dutch horse trader was handed the same penalty as Deker, only his fine was reduced to €75,000.

Meanwhile, Georges Gonzales, manager of Equi'd Sud – a meat wholesaler in Alès and supplier to horse butchers in the south of France – was given four years in prison (three suspended) and a fine of €75,000 along with a five-year ban on working in the horse industry.

When passing sentence, the judges pointed to his "particularly important role in respect of his functions at the Alès slaughterhouse".

Read more on RFI English

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