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5 Riau residents declared guilty of illegal ivory trade

5 Riau residents declared guilty of illegal ivory trade Illegal trade -- Riau Police personnel show two elephant tusks confiscated from five wildlife traders during an operation in Pekanbaru in May. (JP/Rizal Harahap)
Rizal Harahap
Pekanbaru, Riau   ●   Wed, September 28, 2016

The Pekanbaru District Court’s (PN) judge panel imposed prison sentences to five Riau residents proven guilty in the illegal trading of elephant ivory.

Two defendants, Syafriman, 61, and Ma’ruf, 45, were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and ordered to pay Rp 10 million (US$770.62) in fines or face an additional four months in prison.

Meanwhile, three other defendants, Yusuf, 41, Wartono, 44, and Nizam, 43, were sentenced to 1.5 years in prison and Rp 10 million in fines or face an additional four months’ imprisonment.

“The defendants have been proven guilty of violating Articles 40 and 21 of Law No.5/1990 on the conservation of natural resources and their ecosystem and Article 55 of the Criminal Code,” said presiding judge Sorta Ria Neva during the trial on Tuesday.

The verdicts were lower than sentences sought by prosecutors from the Pekanbaru Prosecutor's Office, in which they asked the judge panel to sentence the defendants to 2.5 years in prison and order them to pay Rp 15 million in fines or face an additional six months in prison.

“Among factors mitigating the defendants is the fact that they have never been sentenced before for committing crimes. Meanwhile, some aspects that made their sentences heavier are their actions, which have damaged the ecosystem and threatened the sustainability of protected species,” said Sorta.

“The defendants also enjoyed operational costs, although two elephant tusks, which are 170 centimeters long and weigh around 46 kilograms each, that they wanted to sell at Rp 20 million per kg had not yet been sold.”

The five defendants, who were not accompanied by any lawyer since their first hearing, accepted the verdicts. (ebf)