KUALA LUMPUR: Two Vietnamese citizens were jailed and fined in separate courts for illegal possession of several parts of threatened wildlife, including tiger, leopard, and Sun Bear.
Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, in a statement, said the Kuala Kangsar Sessions Court sentenced Tran Van Sang to a total of 19 years in prison on 10 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
Judge Rohaida Binti Ishak ordered the sentences to run concurrently from the date of his arrest.
Tran was caught on Aug 25, 2017, near an indigenous people’s settlement near Sungai Siput in possession of 273 wildlife parts including that of tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, sun bears and sambar deer.
All except the sambar deer are classified as totally protected species under national legislation.
Seven of the 10 charges Tran faced were under Section 68(2)(c) of the Act, allowing for jail terms of up to five years and a fine of between RM100,000 and RM500,000.
The Wildlife and National Parks Department, represented by deputy public prosecutor Nur Ainaa Ridzwan, argued that a deterrent sentence was necessary given the sheer number of threatened species and parts involved.
“She specifically mentioned the dwindling population of the critically endangered Malayan Tiger and the importance of preserving a species seen as a national symbol. Malaysia currently has less than 200 wild tigers," the statement said.
“Nur Ainaa urged the court to issue a deterrent sentence as a warning to others that wildlife crime has serious consequences.”
In Raub on Monday, the Sessions Court sentenced a 40-year-old Vietnamese sawmill worker to six years' jail and RM400,000 in fines for illegal possession of tiger and other wildlife parts.
Ho Van Kien faced six charges for possession of a full tiger skin, a partial tiger skin, a leopard claw, a sun bear claw as well as 150g of tiger meat and 21.15kg of wild boar meat.
Ho was arrested on July 4 last year in a workers’ quarters in a sawmill in an industrial area in Kuala Lipis, along with five other Vietnamese.
Ho had initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, as did the five other Vietnamese caught in the Perhilitan raid on July 4, but later changed his plea to guilty.
The court then proceeded to sentence Ho while Perhilitan moved to drop the charges against the other five accused.
The court granted the five a discharge not amounting to acquittal.
At least 15 Vietnamese nationals have been arrested in Peninsular Malaysia for tiger related crimes between 2016 and 2018.