The trial in Sri Lanka of three Russian citizens accused of illegally collecting and killing endangered wildlife has been postponed until August 27.
The postponement of proceedings comes after defense attorneys filed a motion for the charges to be dropped due to what they claim were “major violations of the Sri Lankan Code of Criminal Procedure” during the detention of the accused and during searches by authorities.
Aleksandr Ignatenko, an entomologist from Rostov-on-Don, along with his associates Artyom Ryabov and Nikolai Kilafyan, are accused of illegally collecting 33 species of rare and endangered plants, insects, and small animals in Sri Lanka.
If convicted, they could face sentences of up to 40 years in prison.
The three have pleaded not guilty, insisting they had collected only dead insects from the roadside in order to photograph them. They also say they did not plan to take the samples out of Sri Lanka.
The Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences said on August 4 that there are discrepancies in the charges filed by Sri Lankan authorities.
In a statement, experts at the Russian Zoological Institute said most of the samples collected by the three men were not endangered species.
“Only six species of animals and one plant species out of all 33 listed in the indictment can be classified as rare and endangered species,” the statement said.