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A Captivating Mistake

Englishwoman in North Bali on Trial for Keeping Endangered Animals

(3/30/2012) Radar Bali described as "infuriated" the expression of Englishwoman, Sandra Hazel Mercel (61) who now finds herself facing the criminal courts in north Bali.

Mercel was discovered to be caring for an array of protected species at her place of residence in the BTN Permain Building Complex on Jalan Melati Banyualit, in Lovina, Buleleng.

Mercel’s trouble with the laws began when officers from the Bali Police and officers from the Bali Natural Conservation Department (BKSDA) raided her residence.

The woman, widely known as an animal lover, now claims she did not know there was a prohibition against keeping the endangered species that included a Crested Serpent Eagle. Mercel was said to have protested the fact that the officers who raided her home insisted on bringing her case before the courts. She is also said to be claiming the trial proceedings are meandering and detrimental towards someone who has demonstrated good will towards animal protection.

At the second trial session on Monday, March 26, 2012 before the Singaraja District Court, the official schedule was to present witnesses to Mercel’s crime, but had to be postponed when the prosecutor was unable to call his witnesses.

In the end, the presiding judge postponed the trial until next week. Mercel told the press she was fed up with the complicated court proceeding. She explained that the Crested Serpent Eagle confiscated from her home on December 15, 2011, had been purchased when it was small, ailing and uncared for. She claimed she did not know that keeping the bird was illegal and officials who visited her home in the past had never advised her that her care and lodging of her small collection of animals was against the law.

In addition to the eagle, police also confiscated a Hornbill and Sulfur Crested Cockatoo.

She also complained that when her home was raided she was not allowed to explain that circumstances surrounding her acquisition of the birds, but was only intimidated with threats of imprisonment.

The woman is charged with violating Indonesian laws on animal conservation.

Mercel’s lawyer insists that the case before the Court is a misdemeanor infraction of the law and does not need to be brought before the Court. But, now, that the case is before the Court, her lawyer is calling for all involved to be rational and clear-minded.