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Visiting France

CAR ex-prime minister denies bringing monkey meat into France

media Ikiwaner/Wikimedia Commons

Former Central African Republic (CAR) prime minister Martin Ziguélé has denied reports that he was fined at a Paris airport for transporting bushmeat, mainly monkey, in his baggage. A total of 600 kilogrammes of bushmeat was seized on Thursday’s 14.15 flight from Bangui, officials said.

Ziguélé was carrying 11.8 kilogrammes, “mostly of a protected species” when he arrived at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport, judicial officials said.

But the former CAR prime minister later denied either that he had monkey meat in his possession or that he had paid a fine

“I never transported monkey,” he told the AFP news agency. “I had three bags, one of which contained dried beef, freshwater fish and four pieces of antelope. The customs officers told me that there was no problem with the fish and the beef but the antelope was game and so forbidden.”

Ziguélé, who was premier from 2001-2003 and stood unsuccessfully for president in 2005 and 2011, insisted that he had “paid no fine and didn’t carry out any transaction”, adding that he has a receipt that makes no mention of antelope.

The meat was for his personal consumption, he said.

He was on the way to Toulouse to attend the conference of the ruling Socialist Party.

The swoop on the Bangui plane was part of an operation that started on Monday with another big haul which saw several hundred kilogrammes seized after four-hour search of bags during which the police had to be called.

The operation targeted trade in species protected by the Cites convention on endangered species.

Most of the meat was to be sold on the market in the Château Rouge area of Paris, according to investigators.

Officials also say that bushmeat can carry diseases and dangerous insects and that monkeys, in particular, can be infected by illnesses that can be transmitted to humans.

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