Biggest case of illegal hunting in Sweden goes on trial

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Wolverines are the largest of the weasel family, about the size of a medium-size dog, but are extremely strong, agile, and seemingly fearless. They were sought by trappers for their fur which is resistant to frost and so prized as lining around the hoods of winter parkas. (Jeff Ford- /AP/CP)
Wolverines are the largest of the weasel family, about the size of a medium-size dog, but are extremely strong, agile, and seemingly fearless. They were sought by trappers for their fur which is resistant to frost and so prized as lining around the hoods of winter parkas.
(Jeff Ford/AP/CP)
Five men are on trial in Luleå in northern Sweden, suspected of illegally hunting and killing of four bears, three lynx and one wolverine.

The case is said to be this biggest of its kind ever in Sweden.

The animals have either been shot, or caught in traps or snares. Five of the animals are reported to have been tortured to death. Prosecutor Christer Jarlås tells Swedish Radio that they have seen several similar cases over the past few years, but they never went to trial due to lack of evidence.

“If I compare it to other cases that we have had in the past, there is now significantly more concrete evidence in this case than we have had perhaps ever before,” Jarlås said.

Wire-tapped phones were central in the police investigation, which last summer lead to some 50 police officers intervening simultaneously at several localtions, arresting the five suspects and searching their homes, hunting huts, garages and cars for evidence. As the case now opens in court, the prosecution relies on recorded phone-calls, pictures and footage of the trapped and dead animals, text message conversations, confiscated illegal weapons, snares, traps and dog collars outfitted with GPS.

The five stand trial on a total of 23 counts of suspected aggravated hunting offences, handling illegal goods, and weapons crimes. They all deny any wrong-doing.

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