POLICE smelled something fishy when they inspected a lorry load of sardines at Algeciras (Spain) port.
Suspecting there may have been a consignment of hashish hidden among the fish they held the truck and ordered the refrigeration system switched off so they could inspect the contents.
Unfortunately for police they found no illicit goods amongst the cargo. Even more unfortunately for Malaga based company Procomar Alimentos the port’s health inspectors then confiscated and destroyed the 24,000 kilos of sardines as the cold-chain had been broken and the fish, being imported from Morocco, were no longer deemed fit for human consumption.
That leaves the innocent company €18,500 out of pocket and it has now filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Justice for compensation. This is because the Ministry has refused compensation on the grounds that it was a police operation authorised by a judge, so the company is therefore obliged to bear the consequences, despite being faultless.
A judge in Estepona had authorised the operation after police received intelligence that the drugs would be hidden amongst the fish, which turned out to be false. Procomar Alimentos point out that they had processed all paperwork correctly and informed the Spanish authorities of the consignment before the trip.
They want €17,000 compensation for the sardines with the rest of the claim to cover port and shipping expenses.