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

  • CNRP activists arrested for ‘plotting insecurity’

    Three activists for the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court after they were arrested for their alleged involvement in an overseas-organised plot to mobilise demonstrations and cause insecurity. National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the

  • ‘Support of CNRP return online will lead to arrest’

    Anyone posting messages supporting the return of Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), on social media will be arrested, the Ministry of Interior announced on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Monday that authorities

  • Rainsy charged with ‘insulting the King’

    Ministries and state institutions have condemned Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for allegedly insulting His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. The condemnation came in the wake of Rainsy’s claim on Thursday during an interview with Radio

  • CNRP budget announced for soldiers who defect

    The permanent committee of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) said it has a budget for soldiers who defect from Prime Minister Hun Sen when “acting president” Sam Rainsy returns on November 9. An analyst said such an action amounted to forming a coup,