Chinese national arrested with rhino horns pleads guilty

namib times 31 july 2015

One of the three Chinese nationals caught with rhino horns and a leopard skin stashed in their luggage at Hosea Kutako International Airport pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two of the main charges levelled against him.

The three men were arrested by members of the Namibian Police Force’s (NamPol) Protected Wildlife Resources Unit while they were on their way to Hong Kong via Johannesburg, South Africa in 2014.

The 53-year-old Li Zhi-bing entered a guilty plea to the first main charge of contravening Namibia’s Controlled

Wildlife Products and Trade Act (Act Number Nine) of 2008, in this case unlawful exportation or attempts to export controlled wild-

life products (14 rhino

horns worth more than

N$2.3 million) out of

the country.

Li pleaded guilty to the second main charge of

contravening the same Act, in this case of unlawful exportation or an attempt to export wildlife products (a leopard skin valued at N$50 000) out of the coun-

try.

However, Li entered a not guilty plea to the third main charge of contravening the Pre-

vention of Organised

Crime Act (Act Number 29) of 2004, which deals with money laun-

dering and acquisition

of proceeds of unlaw-

ful activities.

The Chinese national also denied all the alternative counts to the three main charges, namely the alternative counts of unlawful dealing in controlled wildlife products; unlawful possession of wildlife products; money laundering and possession of wildlife products; as well as that of bringing into or taking out of Namibia proceeds of unlawful activities.

Meanwhile, the other two Chinese nationals – Li Xiaoliang, 30; and Pu Xuexin, 49 – alongside the 40-year-old Wang Hui whom the local police believe to be the kingpin in one of Namibia’s biggest rhino horn smuggling cases, denied any knowledge of all the allegations contained in the three main charges and the alternative counts.

The three accused each entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges.
Li Zhibing’s case is now being separately dealt with by the court from that of his fellow countrymen in order to allow the prosecution team to call witnesses to give evidence on behalf of the State.

Earlier reports carried by local daily ‘Nami-

bian Sun’ had it that Wang was arrested in May this year at the Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino.

Upon his arrest, accused Wang was immediately linked to the three Chinese men who were arrested with the 14 rhino horns at the Hosea Kutako International Airport.

In 2014, Li Zhibing, Li Xiaoliang and Pu gave evidence during their formal bail hearing that they would stay at the home of Wang in the town of Otjiwarongo if they were released on bail.

Their bail request was,

however, denied.

Wang is also being investigated in connection with other poaching

cases in Namibia.

He has apparently been travelling between China and Namibia regu-

larly, and when the investigating officers learnt that he was back in the country, they tracked him down at the Country Club in May this year where he was busy gambling.

Wang is originally from Jang Su in China.
While in Namibia, Wang was staying in Otjiwarongo where he owns the Happy Life Import and Export Company.

Windhoek-based defence lawyer, Orben Sibeya appeared for the four Chinese nationals, while State Advocate, Simba

Nduna appeared for the prosecution.The hearing continued yesterday.

NAMPA

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