Vietnam presses charges against worker over African ivory smuggling


VN Express

Date Published

If convicted, the man could face up to five years in prison for
smuggling elephant tusks.

A Vietnamese man has been formally charged with smuggling ivory from
Angola, VietnamPlus reported, citing Hanoi prosecutors.

The case is part of Vietnam’s efforts to put an end to ivory
smuggling, which has been so prevalent that the country is ranked one
of the world’s biggest markets. It outlawed ivory trade in 1992.

In August 2015 customs and police seized 24 pieces of elephant tusks
weighted 50 kilograms (110 pounds) from the suitcase of Pham Van Luat,
who failed to declare with customs officials of the goods, VietnamPlus

Investigations found Luat went to work at a photocopy shop in Angola
in 2012 and was offered $200 to bring the ivory back home, the report

Upon the seizure, Luat managed to escape, but last December he turned
himself in.

If convicted, Luat could face a jail term of between six months and
five years, based on Vietnam’s penal code.

The usage and trading of rhino horns, mostly from Africa, is a
criminal offence in the Southeast Asian country, but demand is strong
as many people believe rare animal parts can cure diseases.

Vietnam also serves as a trafficking hub for tusks bound for other
parts of Asia, conservationists say.

Hanoi has rejected such allegations but has also stepped up the fight
against smuggling and launched campaigns to raise public awareness
about the usage of rhino horns.