Europe

Horsemeat scandal: Dutch trader found guilty and jailed

Willy Selten Image copyright AFP
Image caption The court said Willy Selten had damaged the interests of the Dutch meat industry

Dutch horsemeat trader Willy Selten has been found guilty of falsifying documents and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for his part in Europe's horsemeat scandal.

Selten, 45, was arrested in May 2013 for selling 300 tonnes of horsemeat labelled as beef.

He was found guilty of forging invoices, labels and declarations and using forged documents to sell meat.

Selten's lawyer said his client was "upset and surprised" by the verdict.

'Negative image'

The scandal broke in Ireland and Britain in January 2013 when it was found that frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets, including Tesco, contained horse DNA.

It resulted in a recall of 50,000 tonnes of meat products across Europe, making it one of Europe's largest food scandals.

Selten had been mixing horsemeat with beef and selling it on as 100% pure beef.

Dutch authorities took 167 samples from his meat supplies in February 2013 and 35 tested positive for horse DNA, the court in Den Bosch heard.

At least 336 tonnes of horsemeat passed through his two businesses between 2011 and 2012, the court said.

The court judgment says that because Selten, whose two companies were declared bankrupt in 2013, sold to foreign firms, "he contributed to a negative image for the Dutch meat industry and damaged the sector's interests".

Selten's lawyer told the BBC his client was "upset and surprised" by the verdict.

He said the court's judgment would now be read and a decision made as to whether to appeal.

At the end of his trial last month, Selten said: "Mistakes were made in our bookkeeping.

"I am not the big horsemeat swindler they're all looking for. I was careless with my administration, but not intentionally."

BBC Hague correspondent Anna Holligan says this was a case of food fraud, rather than food safety.

In handing down the two-and-a-half year sentence, the judge said that Selten had already suffered, she reports - he has been declared bankrupt and is facing damages claims of 11 million euros ($12m; £8m).

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