The defendants claim that the animals were there for scientific research, citing the diplomatic immunity which the government of Sierre Leone had granted them as “scientific attaches.”
The judiciary is apparently unimpressed by this defence. The older man and woman are both in jail after having been arrested at the beginning of the year in Switzerland.
Alligators, spiders, monkeys scorpions and many other exotic creatures were found during a raid of the apartment in July 2008.
According to the state veterinary office, the conditions they were kept in were not “suitable for the species.”
A spokesperson for the Veterinary Office in Ebersberg told The Local that all the animals have since been provided with “long-term homes” either in animal homes or with private individuals.
The animals were kept in dirty cages and were deprived of food and water, said the prosecution.
Many were malnourished, some had infected wounds and illnesses, others were already dead.
This was confirmed at court by a veterinarian from the reptile centre in Munich, who had been present during the raid.
More than 100 reptiles were taken from the house at a cost of €200,000.
The defendants contest the claim that their treatment of the animals was not appropriate for the species.
The oldest defendant, a 52-year-old man, described himself as a scientist, saying he had a “vested interest” in healthy animals, otherwise they wouldn't have “produced the goods.”
He claimed to be involved in research on tumour therapy. “State and court have an ethical duty to connect to such research,” he argued.
The man said also that he made no financial profit from his work. The company for which he worked and which rented the apartment in Grafing was supposed to give him a share of the profits from patents; but it “wouldn't come to that anymore,” now that the 'experiments' have been dismantled he said.
The police were alerted to the exotic zoo when the company in question failed to pay its rent and the landlord noticed the animals upon paying the place a visit.