It was not a hare, but almost. In 2013, consumers in several European countries discovered with surprise and even disgust in which cases, that the frozen lasagna of several brands of precooked food that they had eaten believing that it contained beef, actually included horse meat as a main ingredient. A hoax, popularly known as the Horsegate, by which four employers have to respond, from this Monday, before a correctional court in Paris.
They are two former leaders of the meat processing company Spanghero, which had its headquarters in Castelnaudary, in southeastern France: Jacques Poujol, former director-general, and Patrice Monguillon, who ran the factory. Joining them are Dutch negotiators Johannes Fasen and Hendricus Windmeijer, already convicted in their country of origin for fraud, the same charge they face now in France, where they are also accused of "racketeering organized" "
The four are accused of cheating the society that made the prepared dishes - lasagne "of pure bovine", but also musakas or chili con carne, among other products -, the Luxemburgish Tavola, a subsidiary of the French company Comigel, when selling between 2012 and beginning of 2013 hundreds of tons of beef that they insured were beef, and labeled as such.
The scandal erupted in February 2013 in the United Kingdom, but it was quickly revealed that it affected 13 countries. DNA analysis showed that more than 4.5 million dishes prepared under the Findus or Picard brands, such as the famous meat lasagna, and which claimed on their labeling to have been made from beef, actually contained horse meat, much cheaper in the market. The amount of meat falsely labeled as beef amounted to more than 750 tons.
The investigation of the case established that it was an "organized fraud" that had "lucrative" purposes and that He benefited from insufficient controls.
The main architect of the fraudulent business seems to be the Dutchman Fasen, absent on the first day of trial, according to Agence France Presse. The businessman was already sentenced to nine months in prison in his country in 2012, for another similar case: between 2006 and 2009, he bought South American horse meat that he resold as beef. halal of German origin, remember the newspaper Libération.
The doubt is in the role of those responsible for the French processing company. One of the lawyers of former Director General Poujol, Antoine Vey, told the press on Monday that his client should not be made "responsible for the system" since, "like other companies, he was deceived" by Fasen. Something that the Dutchman denies. "We agreed that he would provide a horse at the price of a horse," he quotes. Libération.
This is what the judge who instructed the case, Serge Tournaire, has also concluded. Le Parisien. "If the protagonists of this case have tried to present the facts as a series of negligence and errors, the information has allowed, on the contrary, to demonstrate that the facts were not fortuitous and came from a true organization, premeditated and prepared and that involved to several people, "the capital's newspaper quotes the magistrate's conclusions. In addition, Tournaire has denounced "obstacles" to its investigation, with the disappearance of several tests that were going to be used during a trial that will last until February 13.