Four men facing trial in Paris are looking set to be charged with up to 10 years in prison and a €1 million fine for their involvement in the 2013 horsemeat scandal.
Former director of French company Spanghero Jacques Poujol and ex-plant manager Patrice Monguillon were accused of knowingly selling 540 tonnes of horsemeat to French food processing company Comigel for its use in 4.5 million ready meals in more than one dozen countries.
At the time supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, The Co-operative, Aldi, and Lidl were affected.
Spanghero had supposedly bought the meat from a Romanian abattoir though suppliers in Cyprus and the Netherlands, before selling it on for the production of what was labelled ‘pure beef’ frozen burgers and lasagne ready meals.
A further 200 tonnes of the horsemeat was used by Spanghero in Marguez sausages.
The duo’s co-defendant and Dutch food trader Johannes Fasen argued Mr Poujol was aware he was buying horsemeat – with investigators alleging he knowingly switched the customs code on the packaging.
His laywer told Reuters: “My client sold the horsemeat to Mr Poujol because he ordered horsemeat.
“He sold the horsemeat to Poujol at horsemeat price and Spanghero sold it on as beef for 1.50€ a kilogram more.
“So who profits from this crime?”
The trial is expected to run until mid-February.