A 60-YEAR-OLD businessman from Castellon has been sentenced to four years in prison for selling horse meat disguised as beef.
The Supreme Court this week confirmed the sentence, adding the requirement to pay €470,000 in compensation to the victims of the fraud.
According to the sentence made public today (Thursday May 6), the conman supplied meat to a company in Torrent (Valencia) between the years 2011 and 2013.
Although the contract was for beef, the Castellon supplier began surreptitiously introducing horse meat – cheaper than beef – into the 20-kilo batches he sent the Torrent firm in order to increase his profit margin.
In his defence, the conman claimed to have sold the nearly 800,000 kilos of horse meat that he was found to have purchased previously through his own five butcher’s shops over the course of one year.
However, the prosecution described this claim as ‘absurd’, as it would have meant selling an average of 2,700 kilos of horse meat every day.
The scam was blown open when the company purchasing the supplies began receiving complaints from customers, including DNA samples showing that ‘between 60% and 100%’ of supplies were horse instead of beef.
According to the Torrent company director, when asked about it the provider admitted mixing both types of meat, which led to the cancellation of the contract and the launch of legal proceedings.
However, during the trial the accused maintained that the mixture was not done on purpose and was probably the result of cross-contamination during the preparation and packing process.
The judge rejected this explanation and found the businessman guilty of fraud and an offence against public health.
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