Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — A man who illegally purchased around 7,000 dead sea turtles several years ago is expected to be sentenced to two to seven years in prison, a more severe punishment than what was proposed last year.
A representative of Nha Trang City’s People’s Procuracy said that Hoàng Tuấn Hải had violated regulations on the “protection of endangered, precious and rare species prioritised for protection” listed in Article 190 of the 1999 Penal Code.
In November 2014, inspectors at Khánh Hoà Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, with other agencies, seized 2,230 dead sea turtles at Hải’s warehouse. The following month, they found thousands of dead sea turtles and 789 giant clam shells in a different location.
Though Hải had no business licence, he began buying sea turtles from fishermen to make handicrafts for sale in 2010, the court said.
At the trial on May 31, Hải said he did not make his purchases by cash but instead exchanged alcohol, beer and cigarettes for the sea turtles.
Hải said that he had not sold products from the turtles’ bodies, and that he was not aware that sea turtles were protected by law.
The prison sentence by the court is more severe than the one given on March 1 last year, which called for a fine of VNĐ50 million to VNĐ500 million, non-custodial reform of up to three years, or imprisonment from six months to three years.
Bùi Thị Hà, deputy director of Education for Nature Việt Nam (ENV), said the centre fully agreed with the decision of the People’s Procuracy.
“This is a great opportunity for Việt Nam to prove to the world that the country is determined to protect sea turtles and deal with crimes related to rare wildlife,” she added.
The case is believed to be the world’s largest cache of marine turtles ever found, according to ENV.
On June 4, the court will issue a decision on the term of Hải’s prison sentence. — VNS