The two men arrested for their role in the widening contaminated egg scandal did not use the banned pesticide ‘deliberately’ the lawyer of one of the two said on a television talk show on Wednesday evening.
It is the first time there has been a public comment about the case from the two main suspects, who were remanded in custody for two weeks earlier this week.
Lawyer Wouter Hendrickx, representing Mathijs IJ, told the Jinek talk show that he cannot say much about the case because the two suspects are being kept in ‘isolation’ and as a lawyer he is not allowed to say anything which might hinder the investigation.
‘My client says that it was not done deliberately. I can say no more because of the limits which have been placed on them,’ he said. The two are under investigation for committing an economic crime, not endangering public health, Hendrickx said.
The two men ran Barneveld-based company ChickFriend which was involved in combating lice at dozens of poultry farms all over the country. So far, 180 firms have been closed down after the banned pesticide was found in their eggs.
Last week, RTLZ reported that many of their customers do not think the men acted deliberately. ‘They are good farming lads,’ one said. ‘They are not crooks.’
However, research by the NRC showed that ChickFriend bought the anti-lice agent containing fipronil under the name ‘fypro-rein’ which could indicate they knew the banned chemical was an ingredient.
Meanwhile, the scandal is costing the industry upwards of €150m in special measures and lost earnings. So far 1.5 million hens have been slaughtered and tens of millions of eggs destroyed, the AD said.
Ministers have also urged banks to be generous towards poultry farmers who run into financial trouble because of the scandal. The tax office has also been told to give farmers more time to pay their bills if necessary.
The Dutch food safety board was tipped off last November about the use of fipronil on factory farms. However, the board did nothing with the tip and did not take any action until it received a second tip-off from Belgium in July this year.