ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

BINTULU: Two men from Penang were sentenced to one year in prison and fined RM1.46 million each by the Sessions Court here after being found guilty of possessing 146 pangolins (Javanica Sweet), which is a protected species in Sarawak.

The duo, Tan Choon How and Kelvin Por Seong Wooi, were charged under Sections 37 (2) (b) and 37 (1) of the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998.

According to the charge sheet, the offence took place in Bintulu waters in early April 2018 and they were detained by the Maritime Enforcement Agency of Malaysia (APMM) Bintulu before being handed over to the Sarawak Forest Department.

The two accused under escort outside the Bintulu Courts complex.

Judge Norhamizah Shaiffuddin, who meted out the sentence yesterday, however, released two other accused, an Indian and a Vietnamese, after she found them not guilty.

Before the sentencing, the judge said wildlife smuggling activities were a serious and rampant offence in the state and the court would not hesitate to impose harsh punishments as education for offenders and deterrence to the public.

It is understood that this is the largest case in the country by the number of seizures.

A ship and the confiscated goods were ordered to be disposed of under the same Ordinance.

Deputy prosecutors Mohd Muhaimin Zakaria and Ronald Felix Hardin represented the Sarawak Forest Department while the accused were represented by lawyer Hii Chee Wung and Muhammad Ilayyeem Azim.

The pangolins onboard the seized vessel.