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Dr. Marc Van Roosmalen, discover of unknown monkey species, freed in Brazil

Dr. Marc Van Roosmalen, discover of unknown monkey species, freed in Brazil

Dr. Marc Van Roosmalen, discover of unknown monkey species, freed in Brazil
August 8, 2007

Dr. Marc van Roosmalen, a renowned primatologist who has discovered seven species of monkeys in the Amazon rainforest, has been freed in Brazil. Dr. van Roosmalen had been charged with illegally keeping wild animals and embezzlement and sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison in a case that was widely criticized by scientists.

A Brazilian judge ruled that the Dutch scientist should be freed from prison while he appeals his conviction for trying to auction off the names of newly described monkey species, keeping primates at his house without a permit and selling a scaffolding donated to the National Institute for Amazon Research where he worked, according to the Associated Press.

Dr. van Roosmalen said his sentence — the maximum under Brazilian law — was influenced by ranchers and loggers that have become his adversaries as he has fought to protect the Amazon from development. Supporters say Dr. van Roosmalen’s sentence is disproportionate for his alleged crimes and noted, before he was freed, that he was denied habeas corpus by Brazilian courts.

“16 years is an excessive sentence for the infractions mentioned, and, for a man of Dr. van Roosmalen’s age, temperament and condition is tantamount to a death sentence,” stated a prominent group of scientists from the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation in a petition issued last month. “Scientists worldwide consider Dr. van Roosmalen’s indictment and sentencing as an attack on the practice and profession of biological science in Brazil, and as an attack on individual scientists.”

“At a time when ecological research is more critical than ever to enable the wise use and management of plants, animals and microbes in the world’s tropics, Dr. van Roosmalen’s indictment, trial, sentencing, incarceration and the associated media response is already discouraging biological research in Brazil, both by Brazilian scientists and by potential international collaborators,” the petition continued. “Dr. van Roosmalen’s situation is indicative of a trend of governmental repression of scientists in Brazil.”

The Associated Press reports that Roosmalen was ordered released Tuesday pending an appeal.

Earlier article: Scientists demand Brazil release renowned primatologist

Source: “Brazilian Judge Releases Dutch Scientist,” by MICHAEL ASTOR of The Associated Press

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