Dar es Salaam — Chinese national Yang Feng Glan, alias Ivory Queen, was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in jail for trafficking in ivory.
Yang, 66, was jailed along with Tanzanian co-accused Salvius Matembo and Philemon Manase, who were also found guilty by the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court. The verdict was delivered by Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi.
The accused faced three counts, including setting up a syndicate to collect 860 elephant tusks weighing 15,900 kilos, which came from 430 elephants.
They were also found guilty of collecting and transporting tusks, which is contrary to the law.
In the third count, the accused were found guilty of purchasing and illegally exporting ivory.
Mr Shaidi sentenced each of the accused to 15 years in jail for the first and second counts, and fined them Sh27.86 billion each for the third count. Failure to pay the fines will see them spend an additional two years behind bars. The jail sentences will run concurrently.
The court also directed the authorities to confiscate Ms Yang's farm and house located in Muheza District, Tanga Region, because they were used in the illegal ivory trade.
The three trafficked in ivory worth Sh13 billion between 2000 and 2014.
Ms Yang was arrested in October 2015 and charged with ivory smuggling.
She was tracked by the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit for more than a year, and was arrested after a high-speed car chase.
Her arrest was welcomed by conservationists, including US-based Elephant Action League co-founder Andrea Crosta.
"It's the news that we all have been waiting for years," Mr Crosta was quoted saying.
"We must put an end to the time of the untouchables if we want to save the elephant," he added.
He said Ms Yang was "connected to various companies abroad, all Chinese-owned, and circulates in the upper echelons of Chinese citizens living and working in Tanzania".
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