Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Case against wildlife ‘trafficker’ dismissed

Case against wildlife ‘trafficker’ dismissed

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A suspected wildlife trafficking. The Nation (Thailand)/ANN

Case against wildlife ‘trafficker’ dismissed

A suspected wildlife trafficking kingpin accused of smuggling $1 million worth of rhino horns to Thailand has had the case against him dismissed, in a surprise Thai court verdict slammed by conservationists.

Boonchai Bach, a Vietnamese national with Thai citizenship, was arrested in January last year in connection with the smuggling of 14 horns from Africa to Thailand.

His arrest came after police caught an airport quarantine official attempting to remove the horns from the quarantine section of a Bangkok airport.

The police sting led investigators to a major syndicate allegedly financed by Boonchai.

But the case was dismissed by a judge on Tuesday because of a lack of evidence, according to an official at Samut Prakan provincial court, where the trial took place.

The case against Boonchai unravelled after a key witness changed his testimony linking Boonchai to the crime, according to the founder of anti-trafficking group Freeland, Steve Galster.

“In the end the case was low-profile and treated like a parking ticket,” Galster said, adding that the case “fell apart” when the prosecution’s only major witness “flipped” on the stand.

Freeland representatives, including Galster, assisted with the investigation and testified at Tuesday’s trial.

They allege there is “adequate incriminating information” to show the Bach family is part of the sprawling Southeast Asian crime syndicate dubbed “Hydra”.

The syndicate smuggles elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts to Chinese and Vietnamese dealers.

For years, traffickers have operated out of Nakhon Phanom province in northeast Thailand, bordering Laos.

It is a pivot point in Asia’s wildlife trafficking chain through which smuggled goods transit through Thailand into Laos and on to Vietnam and China.

Both countries are among the world’s biggest markets for parts from endangered or protected species, including tigers, elephants, rhinos and pangolins.

MOST VIEWED

  • Forest rangers seek 1,210 rifles after serious attacks

    The Ministry of Environment sought permission from the Ministry of National Defence to arm municipal and provincial rangers with 1,210 rifles in response to one of its rangers being killed and two others critically assaulted while out on patrol in Mondulkiri and Kampong Thom provinces. In

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle