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Vietnamese man jailed for keeping 7,000 stuffed endangered sea turtles

By An Phuoc   June 4, 2018 | 07:00 pm PT
Vietnamese man jailed for keeping 7,000 stuffed endangered sea turtles
Hoang Tuan Hai stands in court in Nha Trang on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/An Phuoc
Prosecutors call it the largest illegal taxidermy operation ever discovered worldwide.

A Vietnamese man who traded cigarettes and beers for endangered sea turtles has been jailed for four years and six months for violating wildlife regulations.

The sentence on 46-year-old Hoang Tuan Hai was handed down by the Nha Trang People’s Court in the central coastal town on Monday.

In 2014, police found a massive collection of 7,000 stuffed turtles and 800 giant clam shells, along with many machines and tools that Hai used to fashion sculptures and other craftworks with the bodies of several endangered species.

Prosecutors told the court that it was the largest possession of killed sea turtles found in the world, so far. The court said Hai’s actions had seriously damaged marine life in Vietnam and needs to be punished.

There are five types of sea turtles in Vietnam and all of them have been placed at the highest level of protection for endangered species. Vietnam's Penal Code states that any form of poaching, hunting, capturing or possessing sea turtles or selling or dealing with their body parts can be punished by up to 15 years in prison.

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