Illustrative image (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) on January 22 revealed that 16 international and social organisations in wildlife protection in Vietnam signed a letter calling on Vietnamese law enforcement agencies to strictly handle Nguyen Mau Chien, the suspected mastermind of a trans-national rhino horn trafficking ring.

Chien also has links with the illegal smuggling and trafficking of other animals. His trial will be held on January 26 in Hanoi, with two charges of transporting and stockpiling banned goods under the Article 155 of the Penal Code.

Among the organisations that signed the letter are the Centre of Hands-On Actions and Networking for Growth and Environment, the ENV, Freeland, Free the Nears, TRAFFIC, WildAct Vietnam, the World Animal Protection and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Vietnam.

In the letter, the organisations expressed their belief that an accurate judgment will be made, deterring anyone who harms wildlife and showing the determination of Vietnam in combating wildlife crimes.

The organisations also pledged to accompany Vietnam and support the country’s efforts in fighting illegal trading of wild animals.

Bui Thi Ha, ENV Vice Director said that this is a chance for Vietnam to turn its commitments into actions to eliminate wildlife trafficking.

Earlier at Chien’s trial on November 27, 2017, the judging council asked for supplementary investigation to clarify the origin of some seized exhibits and conflicts in defendants’ statements.

Chien, who was arrested in April, 2017, is allegedly the head of a wild animal trafficking ring from Africa to Vietnam. In 2007, he was arrested and punished in Tanzania for illegally transporting wild animals.

He is suspected to have links to illegal trading of tigers and tiger caging in Thanh Hoa. In the last five years, his ring is believed to have expanded its operations in Africa, focusing on rhino horn, elephant tusks and pangolin scales trading.

In September 2017, in a visit to Vietnam, a delegation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)’s Secretariat and Vietnamese authorities reviewed the ratio of arresting and prosecuting of wildlife crimes. CITES recommended that Vietnam strengthen efforts in trying and apply stricter punishments for the crimes.-VNA