Tanzania: Court of Appeal Orders Fresh Trial of Poaching Case


Faustine Kapama, Tanzania Daily News

Date Published

Court of Appeal has ordered fresh trial of convicted poacher Gaitan
Susuta. Iringa District court convicted Gaitan of three counts,
including unlawful possession of 10 pieces of elephant tusks worth
120m/- and sentenced him to an 80m/- fine and 21-year imprisonment.

Justices Sauda Mjasiri, Ibrahim Juma and Stella Mugasha reached the
decision after nullifying all proceedings of the case, noting that the
trial District Court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

During the trial, they said, Susuta, the appellant, was facing a
combination of economic and non-economic offences, but no certificate
was issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or any state
attorney authoried by him, conferring his consent to the district
court to try the case.

The justices said, “We order that the matter be remitted to the court
with competent jurisdiction for a trial de novo (afresh) which should
be based on the charge sheet that reflects the provisions of section
12 (4) of Cap 2000.”

Facts of the case show that on August 22, 2013, two park rangers
whilst on a routine patrol within the national park, received
information about sounds of shotgun being heard by certain people from
Kilombero North.

Concerned, the rangers decided to find out for themselves. As they
approached the area where information had directed them, they saw
carnivorous birds flying overhead.

This was an ominous sign of animal carcass in the nearby bushes. On
further approach, the rangers heard voices of people. The appellant
who was amongst the people the rangers discovered in the bushes was
accosted and arrested before he could escape.

His colleagues escaped from the imminent arrest by the park rangers.
Upon searching the appellant’s bag at the scene of his arrest, the
rangers found 10 elephant tusks, one weighing machine and rounds of

It is alleged that the appellant showed the rangers where the carcass
of the dead elephant was. The appellant was taken to the police
station and later charged with three counts of unlawful entry into the
national park, unlawful possession of government trophies and unlawful
possession of ammunition.

In his defence during the trial, the appellant had given a very
different account on how he was arrested. He recalled on August 23,
2013, the park rangers, who were driving by, stopped and forced him
into their vehicle.

Once inside the vehicle, the rangers showed him the elephant tusks and
they literally falsely accused him of being found in possession of the
government trophies. His prostration was no avail because the rangers
took him first to their office before handing him over to the police