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During the preliminary hearing before the judge today, the charges were presented. Upon a constitutional request, based on nature rights, Sea Shepherd asked to be heard in order to advocate for the legal protective status of land iguanas in Galapagos. This was the first time such a request was granted in Galapagos, a clear indication that Sea Shepherd’s legal work is being noticed by the Galapagos authorities.

Due to the seriousness of the crime as well as the overwhelming evidence against Mr. Bender, preventive imprisonment was ordered and Mr. Bender was fined $15,000 in Fiji for his crime.

Mr. Bender is not a first time offender as he was arrested in Fiji, only seven months ago, for trying to smuggle a pregnant Fijian iguana out of the country.

Mr. Bender’s Fijian hotel room had already been searched a week earlier, upon which eight live iguanas were found and confiscated.

In Fiji, Mr. Bender had said he was sorry and would never do it again, I guess in his mind, never means seven months.

Sea Shepherd Galapagos will monitor this case very closely as it is very important a clear signal is given that these serious environmental crimes are to be met with equally serious sanctions.

Galapagos Park Rangers with two of the iguanas saved from the smuggling attempt. Photo: Ecuadorian National Police Police dog Kevin with a Ranger and one of the iguanas saved from the smuggling attempt. Photo: Ecuadorian National Police
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