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Tabloid News of Sunday, 27 May 2001

Source: Accra Mail

Smuggled "Bushmeat" Lands Couple in London Court

A couple who 'jumped' British customs and smuggled endangered species including a Tantalus monkey into Britain for under cover counter sale as 'bush meat' appeared in court last week to answer charges.

The UK Guardian revealed how "one of the traders boasted of being able to procure a chimpanzee's hand or even a human head", to a jury at Southwark Crown Court, South-East Landon.

Mobolaji Osakuade, 40,also boasted of being able to get hold of a male lion for ?5,000.

He allegedly told an undercover investigator "I can get anybody anything they want provided they pay for it".

The monkey was allegedly offered for ?350 to the under cover reporter (Tom Freeman) who told the defendants (Rosemary Kinnane co-defendant) that he was the heir of a tribal throne and wanted to cook a traditional meal for his uncle, who was a tribal chief.

Prosecuting counsel, Tracy Ailing, said "all primates were protected under the Convention on International Trade in endangered species (CITES) and could not be imported without a government licence which had not been granted to the couple".

According to Ms Ayling "'Bust meat' is a term used for any animal that is eaten as food and comes from the African forest, in this case the Nigerian forest..." Osakuade who pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling and selling the monkey, could still face charges of smuggling and offering for sale a scaly anteater known as a pangolin, a python skin and lizard skins.

Kinnane pleaded not guilty for her involvement in the illicit trade even though the jury saw and heard her (in video evidence) giving the under cover journalist a list of spices to go with the meat.

The trial continues.

In a related case, a BBC under cover journalist has allegedly exposed illegal quantities of meat imported into Wales and labelled, as produce of Wales. An investigation is under way.

Osakuade's action clearly contradicts the British government's measures to curb the reintroduction of the Foot and Mouth Disease currently having its toll on the economy. The main features of these measures are, control over the importation of cloven-hoofed animals and of meat from such animals from countries in which Foot and Mouth Disease occurs.

A press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Trade (MAFF) categories eggs, hides and skins, processed animal protein for consumption among a detailed list of foodstuffs and animal related products, which need prior veterinary and custom clearance. A list is available at UK points of entry.

MAFF figures show that the government will pay over ?677m in compensation to farmers who have had their animals culled for having the disease or as a preventative measure. Last week MAFF said 7,563 animals have been culled or await culling.

Foot and Mouth Disease is an endemic in many parts of the world. The last outbreak in Great Britain was in 1981. The most recent in the EU was in Greece last year.