Indonesia: Heavy punishment key in fight against illegal wildlife trade -- Activist

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 9 Sep 16;

Wildlife trade will not come to an end until Indonesia’s legal system imposes heavy sentences with a deterrent effect on people who illegally hunt or trade animals, an activist has said.

Osmantri, coordinator of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Wildlife Crime Team in Riau, said tough penalties for wildlife poaching in Indonesia were few and far between, which had led to a rapid loss of species in the country.

Meanwhile, he praised the Rengat District Court, which sentenced two Sumatran tiger skin traders to four years in prison and ordered them to pay Rp 60 million (US$4,572) in fines, in a trial on Friday.

“This is the first illegal tiger skin trading case brought to justice in Riau this year. The court’s verdict meets the expectations of many people. It’s a great achievement. Hopefully, this will have a deterrent effect on other wildlife crime perpetrators,” said Osmantri.

He said few judges imposed heavy sentences for wildlife crimes in Sumatra, especially in Riau. “I hope this can serve as reference for court judges across Indonesia.”

In the past, Osmantri said, perpetrators of crimes against protected species in Riau had been sentenced to just one or two years in prison.

Based on WWF Riau data, only eight Sumatran tiger skin trading cases were brought to court so far. Four cases had been handled at the Rengat District Court, three at the Pekanbaru District Court and one at the Tembilahan District Court.

“At the Pekanbaru court, for instance, a wildlife crime suspect, who had sold two sheets of tiger skin was sentenced to less than one year in prison,” Osmantri lamented. (ebf).

Tiger-skin traders sentenced to 4 years in prison
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 9 Sep 16;

Rengat District Court’s panel of judges sentenced two Sumatran tiger skin-trading syndicate members Herman, alias Man bin Mausin, and Adrizal Rakasiwi, alias Adri, in conclusion of their trial to four years in prison on Friday.

The court also ordered them to pay Rp 60 million (US$4,572) in fines or face an additional three-month’s imprisonment.

The sentence imposed by the panel led by Wiwin Sulistya is heavier than the previous sentence sought by prosecutors.

“We, the three members of the judges' panel, are one voice in deciding this verdict. There has been no dissenting opinion,” Wiwin said on Friday.

The presiding judge further said the two convicts were proven guilty of possessing a sheet of Sumatran tiger skin and were aiming to sell it to a buyer who lived in Jambi and was now declared a fugitive of justice.

“They had agreed the Sumatran tiger skin would be sold for Rp 150 million. A team of personnel from the Riau Police, the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency [BKSDA] and the Jambi BKSDA managed to apprehend both of them at Herman’s house on April 29 before their transaction with the buyer occurred,” said Wiwin.

The judge said their crime posed a serious threat to Sumatran tigers, in which according to several witnesses who presented at their trial, only around 300 tigers still could be found in their natural habitat.

“Any sentence imposed must have a deterrent effect so that other people will think twice before they commit similar crimes in the future. Only sanctions with a deterrent effect to wildlife poachers and their syndicates could save Sumatran tigers from extinction.” (ebf)

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