According to France Bleu Berry, this is a first in France and this court decision could set a precedent.
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French news – With France Bleu Berry
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A company was sentenced Wednesday, September 6 to a fine of 20,000 euros by the court of Châteauroux (Indre) for having illegally imported wood from the Amazon, found France Bleu Berry. The company “Pierre Robert et Cie” is domiciled in Ardentes (Indre). She was found guilty by the Châteauroux court of importing wood from Brazil and sentenced for “breach of due diligence”. The Berry company also used falsified documents from Brazil for its imports.
A revelation from Greenpeace
In November 2019, Greenpeace revealed the case. The association had launched an alert by sending a 30-page document to the public prosecutor of Châteauroux. Greenpeace revealed that this Brazilian wood came from illegal logging in the state of Para, in the Amazon. The region is plagued by deforestation and 80% of logging is prohibited. The association had demonstrated that all links in the wood supply chain were in the crosshairs of the Brazilian authorities.
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At the end of this chain, the Berry company would therefore have lacked vigilance to guarantee the origin of the wood. The court found that the Brazilian sawmill was indeed the subject of ongoing proceedings in its country, including embargo measures. He also recalled that the other links in this chain had already been subject to sanctions by the Brazilian government.
The Châteauroux court therefore sentenced the company to a fine of 20,000 euros, including a 10,000 euro suspended sentence. He also asks the company to pay 20,000 euros in damages to the association Greenpeace, the source of the complaint, and 3,000 euros to the environmental associations Indre nature and Ecope.
A “positive sign”
Despite the “low fine amount” regrets Greenpeace, the associations Greenpeace France, France Nature Environnement and Canopée welcome the “foresight of the courts in climate disputes where companies may tend to agitate in vain for private audits and where the State is clearly failing in its obligations to regulate these sectors at risk”.
According to Laura Monnier, legal adviser at Greenpeace France, “court sends positive signal to welcome disputes involving negligent importers in their supply chains”. According to her, “This would not have been possible without the quality preliminary investigation carried out by the gendarmerie of La Châtre and the agents of the French Office for Biodiversity. The quality of environmental justice depends on the means and awareness of these services, which must be constantly strengthened to meet these growing challenges”says Greenpeace.
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