Sunday, June 14, 2015

Suspected Chinese rhino horn smuggling kingpin denied bail in Namibia

A CHINESE, who police believe to be the 'kingpin' in one of Namibia's biggest rhino horn smuggling cases, was denied bail by the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura yesterday. Wang Hui (40), who was remanded in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility, had his case transferred to the Regional Court where he is expected to appear on 25 June. He will appear alongside three other Chinese men - Li Xiaoliang (30), Li Zhibing (53), and 49-year-old Pu Xuexin - who were arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in 2014. They had 14 rhino horns worth more than N$2,3 million, and a leopard skin valued at N$50 000 stashed in their luggage. The Namibian Sun reported earlier that Wang was arrested last month at a Windhoek hotel. Wang is also being investigated in connection with other poaching cases in Namibia. Windhoek-based defence lawyer Orben Sibeya appeared on behalf of Wang while Public Prosecutor Anthony Wilson appeared for the State. Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Namibia has commented for the first time over the arrest of its citizens in the rhino horn smuggling case. Chinese Embassy director of political affairs, Wang Xuguang told the Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA) that the Chinese citizens arrested so far are too few to spoil the good standing of its nationals. “The Chinese nationals involved in illegal activities in Namibia are very few individual cases. We support the Namibian side to deal with them in strict accordance with the law.” the statement reads. The statement further reads: "The Chinese government sets great store by the protection of wildlife, including rhino. On countering wildlife poaching, our attitude is resolute. We adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards it.” He said the Chinese government has enacted laws and regulations, established joint law enforcement mechanisms incorporating multiple agencies and has taken an active role in the international law enforcement cooperation to crack down on poaching activities. Further, he said the Chinese government has been actively conducting exchanges and cooperating with some 
African countries to provide more personal training and funding for wildlife protection. While many Namibians blame Chinese nationals in the country for the increased poaching of rhinos and elephants for their horns and tusks respectively, the ambassador said his office hopes that the Namibian people can view their efforts in an objective light. The police believe Wang Hui to be the 'kingpin' in one of Namibia's biggest rhino horn smuggling cases. Wang Hui is expected to appear alongside a group of three other Chinese nationals, who were in 2014 caught with 14 rhino horns worth more than N$2,3 million, as well as a leopard skin valued at N$50 000 stashed in their luggage while they were on their way to Hong Kong via Johannesburg, South Africa. - Nampa/Namibian

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