Thursday 24 March 2016

Chinese poachers sentenced to 30 years jail in Tanzania

Two Chinese poachers were recently sentenced to 30 years in jail each or ordered to pay a record Sh108.7 billion fine in one of the heaviest sentences aimed at curbing the illegal ivory trade.

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court found Xu Fujie, 31, and Huang Gin, 51, guilty of illegally possessing 706 pieces of elephants tusks.

They were each ordered to pay Sh 54.3 billion fine or face the lengthy sentence of a whole three decades behind bars.

The jailing of the two is the latest in a series of heavy court judgments that has seen several Chinese and Tanzanians handed long jail sentences. This appears to be a renewed anti-poaching drive.

Magistrate Mkeha also convicted the Chinese of attempting to bribe the police and officers from the wildlife department with Sh30.2 million. For this, they will serve five years in jail, and pay a Sh 1 million fine. However, the Chinese were acquitted of charges of possessing a bullet cartridge.

Magistrate Mkeha said the court had been satisfied with the testimony from nine prosecution witnesses and exhibits. “Considering the evidence adduced in court and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious the accused are a real threat to the elephant generation within the boundaries of our country,” said the magistrate. Evidence provided by nine prosecution witnesses proved the offence beyond all reasonable doubts, he said.

State lawyers, Faraja Nchimbi and Paul Kadushi, had asked the court to mete out a severe punishment, saying between 2010 and December 2013 a total of 892 elephants were killed in Tanzania’s national parks.

I do think that last statement is a slight underestimate by about 40000 !

The convicts entered the country in 2010 and stayed for three years until 2013 when they were arrested at Kifaru Street, Mikocheni B in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam. The duo posed as garlic importers and marine product exporters. The seized tusks were found in sacks of garlic in the house where the two lived. They had killed, he said, a quarter of all elephants killed in the country between 2010 and 2013.

Mr Nchimbi told the court that there was sufficient reason to believe the two Chinese were ring leaders and financiers of an elephant poaching syndicate in the country. The dramatic arrest of the convicts was led by the then Tourism minister Khamis Kagasheki, who found the tusks cleverly mixed with shell and garlic to avoid suspicion. The tusks the duo were caught with weighed 1.8 tonnes and had an estimated value of $3.1 million (Sh5.4 billion).

Bring back Khamis Kagasheki !

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