Delhi court grants bail to man wanted in Thailand for ‘smuggling radiated tortoise’

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A Delhi court has granted bail to a man wanted by authorities in Thailand for allegedly smuggling 840 radiated tortoises.

The tortoises, originally found in Madagascar, are known for its bright yellow carapace and are listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain, passed the judgment on December 8. The accused, Murugesan Manivannan, was asked to furnish a bail bond of Rs 1 lakh besides a surety of the same amount.

The court also ordered that he should deposit his passport with the authorities and not leave the country without permission.

Manivannan was also directed to mark his attendance before local police on the first day of every month.

Manivannan was caught with the tortoises in August 2012 at the Thailand Airport but was released following investigation. That is when he fled Thailand and came to India. A provincial court in Thailand issued an arrest warrant against him and a request was made by the government to extradite him in 2014.

His counsel, on the other hand, had informed that he was regularly appearing before the Thailand court from 2014-2017 but could not take part in proceedings thereafter because he was arrested in Madhya Pradesh and convicted in a criminal case on July 19, 2021.

Special Public Prosecutor Rekha Pandey, however, argued that a red-corner notice has already been issued against him as he had failed to join the proceedings in Thailand on his own.

The prosecution argued that his acquittal is under challenge before the Madhya Pradesh High Court and therefore he must not be granted bail as he may try to flee the country.

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