Vietnam presses charges against worker over African ivory smuggling

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 reported.

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 said.

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.

Vnexpress

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