The defendant, Cao Xuan Nai, was found guilty of violating regulations on protecting endangered, precious and rare animals as stipulated in Point b of Clause 3, Article 244 of the revised 2015 Penal Code.
Nai was arrested near the Tay Trang Border Gate on April 2, 2018, while he was trafficking 27 big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) weighing 10.5kg and four feet of Asian black bears (Ursus thibetanus) weighing 13kg in total on National Highway 279.
Big-headed turtles and Asian black bears are endangered species subject to the highest protection level under Vietnamese and international law, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The arrest was made over three months after the revised 2015 Penal Code took effect. The code raises the maximum penalty for wildlife-related violations to 15 years or 2 billion VND (85,900 USD) in fines for involved individuals; and 15 billion VND (644,500 USD) in fines, suspending operations from 6 months to 3 years or forcing to shut down for involved legal entities.
Commenting on this case, Deputy Director of the Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) Bui Thi Ha said the 2015 Penal Code has begun to show its significance in the fight against wildlife crime. EVN hopes that the punishment will be an expensive lesson for the defendant and help deter those who intend to make illegal profit from wild animals.