Sri Lanka Fines Russian Couple for Holding Exotic Orchids
A Sri Lankan court Friday fined a Russian couple around 1.2 million rupees ($9,230) for illegally collecting endangered orchids and other exotic flora, obstructing wildlife officials and attacking a cameraman.
A magistrate at Ratnapura, just outside the highly protected Sinharaja rainforest region, found the couple guilty of holding 345 exotic plants representing 32 species on an endangered list.
"They were fined 1.19 million for the plants and 20,000 rupees for obstructing a wild life official by biting his hand and resisting arrest," said a court official in Ratnapura, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south east of Colombo.
They were also asked to pay another 20,000 rupees ($150) to a local journalist from the Lankadeepa newspaper for damaging his camera outside the court house.
The couple, identified in court documents as Smirnova Irina Olegovna and Marfin Stanislav, were arrested last week on a tip off from a tracker at the Sinharaja forest. They had arrived in Sri Lanka on November 11.
Sri Lanka maintains strict flora and fauna laws, and in February arrested six men from Australia, Belgium, Germany and Venezuela for illegally holding endemic amphibians and reptiles
Possessing exotic plants and animals can be punished with fines of up to $430 for each animal or plant along with a jail term of up to five years.