Man claims he thought illegal whale bones were wood

PHOTO: French man arrested for having whale bones claims the seller told him they were wood. (via Phuket Express)

After being arrested for possessing parts of a whale skeleton last week, a French man in Rawai countered the charges. He claims that the person who sold him the bones told him they were made out of wood and were not real whale bones. The man, identified as Mr Alain, told police that he had no idea he had illegal whale bones.

Last Monday, The Phuket Express reported that police arrested a 52 year old man from France for illegal skeleton possession. Arresting officers seized bones that made up the lower part of a jaw of a baleen whale. (Ironic fact: baleen whales are also known as whalebone whales.)

The French man told police that he had purchased the whale bones from a market near Chalong. Officers are now trying to locate and question the seller at that market. Mr Alain says the person who sold him the bones told him they were just wooden carvings. The French expat bought them and brought them home to use as a decorative feature in his house.

Using a technique called Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, officials were able to test the man’s decoration. They confirmed that it was definitely not wood, but was actually a baleen whale’s lower jaw.

The department had originally investigated and tracked down the man after being notified of the whale bones. An anonymous tip alerted the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources that a foreign man in Rawai somehow had whale skeletons that were probably illegal.

Police did not say if they believe the French expat’s story that he didn’t know they were real whale bones. It is possible that if authorities find the person in the market that sold him the bones and confirm that he lied about it being wood, the seller could be charged with the crime instead of the buyer.

It turns out that owning whale bones violates the Wild Animal Protection Act. When questioned by authorities, the Frenchmen admitted that the whale bones were his. After confessing, he was arrested and transported to the Chalong Police Station to be prosecuted.

Crime NewsPhuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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