Hanoi sends rhino horn trader to jail for 14 years

By Tri Duc   December 7, 2021 | 04:19 am PT
A Hanoi court has sentenced Do Minh Toan to 14 years' imprisonment for trading and trafficking rhino horns, a tough verdict welcomed by experts.

Toan, 36, made false customs declarations to avoid checks and brought 55 pieces of rhino horns weighing 126.5 kilograms, from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into Vietnam in July 2019. Hanoi customs officers and police detected the violation and investigated it further.

Under Vietnam's Penal Code, the maximum jail term for holding, trading, and trafficking rhino horns is 15 years. The Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV), a non-governmental organization, said this punishment is the toughest one to date in Vietnam for crimes relating to rhino horns and wildlife trade.

Bui Thi Ha, ENV vice director, said amid the negative opinions about Vietnam’s handling of wildlife crimes, this heavy penalty showed that Vietnam’s competent authorities have begun to mete out serious punishment to deter people from wildlife crimes.

A problem with this case is that the authorities could not detect the people who hired Toan to commit the crime, who are the main culprits, Ha said, as cited by Hai Quan (Customs) Online newspaper.

According to the ENV, since 2017, Vietnam has recorded 317 crimes relating to rhino horns. The authorities have arrested and pressed charges against 24 people. The average jail term for those found guilty has been 5.71 years.

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