Man tries to smuggle tortoises disguised as desserts through Berlin airport

A man tried to bring three tortoises into Germany by disguising them as sweet treats.

Man tries to smuggle tortoises disguised as desserts through Berlin airport
The man placed the tortoises in a baked goods box. Photo: Hauptzollamt Potsdam

Customs at Schönefeld Airport in Berlin stopped the 69-year-old man who had arrived by plan from Cairo, Egypt, according to the Hauptzollamt (main customs office) Potsdam.

The 69-year-old wanted to leave the security area without declaring that he was carrying any questionable goods. However customs officers asked him to stop, and after checking, found a suspicious package in his luggage.

SEE ALSO: Customs seize falcon wearing Nazi SS hat

The package appeared to be for baked goods but the contents didn't look like the average cake or tart.

When officers asked the man what the contents were, he explained that it was chocolate. However, when the package was opened, three living Moroccan tortoises were discovered.

Since the animals are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention, they were confiscated and placed in the care of the border veterinarian.

The incident happened on March 2nd, authorities said. The Hauptzollamt said further investigations will be carried out by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.

It's not the first time passengers have tried to smuggle animals through German airports. In 2014, a 44-year-old Mexican man was arrested at Frankfurt Airport after attempting to smuggle 55 tortoises, 30 arboreal alligator lizards, four horned vipers and one spiny-tailed iguana in a single suitcase.

Meanwhile, in 2016 customs officers did a double-take at Munich airport when a suitcase belonging to a man arriving from Thailand turned out to contain the skull of an unfortunate ape.

The 650-gramme, 23-centimetre souvenir had not been properly cleaned, resulting in the grim stench that assaulted the officers' nostrils.

SEE ALSO: Customs seize stinking ape skull from traveller's luggage


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Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid

Budget airline Ryanair urged on Wednesday that Air France be forced to give up lucrative French airport slots if it receives more state aid.

Ryanair demands that Air France give up French airport slots in exchange for state aid
Could Air France be forced to give up airport slots if it accepts more aid from the French state? Photo: AFP

Paris is in talks with European Union officials on the delicate issue of state aid to the French flagship carrier, which has already received substantial help from the government.

“Should yet another enormous and illegal state aid bailout occur, then effective remedies must be applied to ensure fair competition in the French market and to protect the interests of the French consumer / visitor,” a Ryanair statement said.

The low-cost airline is based in Ireland and regularly underscores the amount of money being allocated to keep struggling rivals in the air.

In exchange for more aid, Air France must be prepared to give up “a substantial number of its take-off and landing slots at key French airports including Paris Charles De Gaulle, Paris Orly and Lyon,” Ryanair argued.

French officials and the European Commission are currently discussing the terms of a further recapitalisation of the Air France-KLM group, which has suffered from the Covid-19 crisis.

EU officials have already indicated that in exchange for their approval, Air France should give up coveted slots at Paris' Orly airport, which is essentially saturated now.

Air France on the other hand has indicated that such a move posed a serious threat because it was counting on Orly operations to help it rebound from the crisis.

French officials want to avoid putting Air France, which was struggling even before the pandemic, at a competitive disadvantage.

Ryanair urged EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager to “stand firm in her discussions with the French government.

“Either Air France gets no state aid or proper remedies should be put in place to ensure a fair and level playing field for all airlines,” it insisted.