x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Sheep smuggler sent to jail

Police found man was hiding 600 sheep in the back of his lorry.

A man who attempted to smuggle 600 live sheep into the country in the back of his lorry has been sentenced to three months in prison.

The man, identified only as FM, from an Asian country, was arrested after the police found the hidden animals using "sophisticated equipment". Court documents did not specify the size of the lorry.

He had used wooden planks to give the impression that the lorry was empty. It was the first time anyone had tried to conceal so many sheep in this manner, officials said.

The driver confessed in the Al Ain Court of First Instance that he was smuggling the sheep into the UAE without declaring them to customs officers.

The only border crossings in Al Ain are between the UAE and Oman.

In accordance with Article 142 of the GCC customs law, the minimum fine is the same as the sum of custom fees, and must not exceed the price of the goods.

Prison sentences are required to be a month minimum and no more than one year. The smuggler had no customs documents for the sheep. The lorry was confiscated along with all the animals. The court also ordered the man to be deported because of the "seriousness of the crime committed and his daringness to disobey the law and in accordance with Article 121 of the Federal Penal Code", a statement from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department said.

The department said the ruling should deter animal smugglers, who can endanger the environment and the public health, as many smuggled livestock are infected with diseases. The purpose of smuggling such animals is usually to escape procedural medical check-ups, the department said.

osalem@thenational.ae