29 January 2013

Kenya: Four Chinese Men Plead Guilty to Ivory Smuggling in Kenya

Four Chinese men who pleaded guilty in a Kenyan court to smuggling thousands of dollars worth of ivory were fined $340 each on Tuesday (January 29th), AFP reported.

During sentencing in Nairobi, Magistrate Timothy Okello said he regretted that ivory smuggling "is still considered as a petty offence" and called for Kenyan laws "to be amended to reflect the gravity of such matters".

The four men were arrested on Sunday carrying ivory products including chopsticks, necklaces and bracelets, as well as two pieces of raw ivory weighing 9.6 kilogrammes.

The raw ivory alone had an estimated black market value of $24,000 in Asia, said Patrick Omondi, head of the elephant programme at Kenya Wildlife Service.

The men, Qu Rongjune, Xuefeng Liu, Gu Guisheng and Wang Chengbang, were apprehended in Kenya while in transit from Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to China's Guangzhou airport.

Speaking through an interpreter, they pleaded for leniency and said they were unaware that it was illegal to carry ivory through Kenya.

If they fail to pay the fine, the men could face up to six and a half years in jail.

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