November 21, 2017
In an appeal hearing that took place today, the original sentences for the captain and 16 crew members of the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 vessel that was found to be carrying 300 tons of illegal sharks and fish in August was reduced from four years to three years in prison, and one year in prison, respectively. The judges of the Criminal Chamber of the Provincial Court of Justice of Guayas also decided to revoke the confiscation of the vessel, based on Ecuadorian legislation that does not allow the seizure of property of a third party who has not acted in the crime (as the vessels’ owner was not identified or linked in the process). However, the same prior to payment of compensation of more than $6 million dollars for environmental damages to the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) stands according to what was established in the trial hearing.
The members of the court ratified the commission of the offense established in article 247 of the Integral Penal Organic Code for the unauthorized passage within the Galapagos Marine Reserve, as well as the possession and transportation of protected species.
“The room ratified each of the steps taken by the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park. The arguments of the defense were distorted and the respect of human rights for the crew members was demonstrated. We have acted in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution in defense of the rights of nature,” said Walter Bustos, Director of the GNPD.
The result of the hearing supports the defense of the rights of nature carried out by the DPNG, which after this ruling will continue to be vigilant in the next instance, in case the defense lodges the appeal before the National Court of Justice.
During the initial trial hearing held in San Cristóbal, a judge ordered the sentence of 1 to 4 years for the captain, assistants and crew members for the crime of transporting protected species, as well as confiscation of the vessel. Last month, the GNPD and the Ecuadorian Navy completed the process of destroying the cargo after taking a complete an inventory of the species transported. More than 6,000 sharks from five protected species were among the cargo.