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$15,000 fine for smuggling iguana

December 06
12:00 2011

image Written By : LITIA MATHEWSELL. A German national found guilty of exporting an endangered species has been given 28 days to pay a $15,000 fine or face two years imprisonment.
Dirk Bender, 31, appeared before Magistrate Sujeewa Nishshanka at the Lautoka Magistrates Court yesterday to answer to charges of exporting an endangered and protected species without a permit under the Endangered and Protected Species Act 2001. A pregnant Fiji crested iguana was found wrapped in his knapsack at the Nadi International Airport.
Following a tip off, a customs officer found the iguana in Mr Bender?s possession on Saturday, before his arrest to which he admitted to not having an export permit.
Police had earlier seized eight iguanas from his hotel room, and Mr Bender said the iguana he attempted to export was from the same lot.
Magistrate Nishshanka said since Bender pleaded guilty at the outset and saved the Court time, his fine would be reduced to $15,000 from the initial $20,000 in the case of first offenders, such as Bender.

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