Malaysia: Groups seek mandatory fines for wildlife trader

Groups seek justice for animals
The Star 12 Feb 13;

PETALING JAYA: Wildlife conservation groups have called for the mandatory fines to be imposed on the wildlife trader who was convicted for possession of tiger skins and bones, and African elephant tusks.

Mohd Nor Shahrizam, 30, was sentenced by the Alor Setar Sessions Court to a total of 60 months – 24 months for possession of eight tiger skins, another 24 months for keeping 22 whole tiger bones, and 12 months for the nine tusks – but because the judged ordered the sentences to run concurrently, he would only be in jail for 24 months.

To top that, no fines were imposed.

A wildlife prosecution officer in Kedah has been reported as saying that the prosecution planned to appeal to seek a fine.

Malaysian Conservation Alli­ance for Tigers (Mycat) said that a mandatory fine – the minimum being RM100,000 – would be in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Act, which involves the keeping of tigers or their parts.

“Yet, Mohd Nor Shahrizam, found guilty on two charges under this clause, was not fined. Not even the minimum RM200,000 he should have been slapped with in this case,” said the group.

“So it’s 24 months for 22 tigers. A little over a month in prison for each tiger that Malaysia has lost forever,” said Mycat.

The group said the judgment was like “the blow of a sledgehammer” to those in enforcement and conservation who had been toiling to keep tigers from the brink of extinction.

Mycat said it also wanted to see authorities “dig deeper” into the case, alleging that Mohd Nor Shahrizam was only part of a larger criminal trafficking network.

“Will Malaysia ever join the ranks of countries like India, Nepal and Indonesia, which have taken down some of their countries’ biggest wildlife smuggling rings?” it said.

The group urged that the authorities fight harder to ensure protection and justice for the last 500 tigers for the sake of the country’s wildlife and image.

Mohd Nor Shahrizam was caught with the items when the Department of Wildlife and National Parks raided his house in Kampung Sungai Dedap, Kota Sarang Semut, last February.

Judge Mohd Rosli Osman granted the defence a stay pending an appeal and ordered that Mohd Nor Shahrizam’s bail, initially set at RM70,000, be raised to RM80,000.

Dept wants wildlife trader to pay dearly
Nuradilla Noorazam New Straits Times 21 Feb 13;

APPEAL AGAINST LIGHT SENTENCE: Man who possessed endangered animal parts only jailed 2 years

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has requested an appeal to be filed against the light sentence imposed on a wildlife trader for possession of tiger skins, bones and elephant tusks.

A Perhilitan spokesman said the two years' jail imposed on Mohd Nor Shahrizam, 30, by the Alor Star Sessions Court recently was too lenient and disproportionate to his crimes.

"We have submitted a request for an appeal against the sentence as it does not include any fine against the culprit.

"By right, those caught with possession of tiger body parts face a mandatory, minimum fine of RM100,000, and mandatory imprisonment. However, in this case, the culprit was only jailed and not even ordered to pay the minimum fine as prescribed in the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010," the spokesman said.

It was reported that wildlife conservation groups were outraged that the court had only jailed Nor for a total of 60 months -- 24 months for possession of seven tiger skins, 24 months for keeping 22 whole tiger bones, and 12 months for having nine elephant tusks.

However, because the judge ordered the sentences to run concurrently, Nor would only be in jail for 24 months. He was caught with the wildlife body parts in Kampung Sungai Dedap, Kota Sarang Semut, Kedah.

Malaysia Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCAT) had described Nor's conviction as a "featherlight sentence".

The group urged for the mandatory fine to be imposed and for a deeper investigation into the case as it is believed to involve a high-profile international trafficking ring.

The tiger population in Malaysia is estimated to be just around 500, compared with the 1950s when 3,500 were estimated to roam the jungles.

Records showed that wildlife traders were usually let off with relatively light sentences.

Last year, four men were acquitted after killing a tiger in 2010, despite the fact that all four had admitted to the offence.

Another high-profile case involved international wildlife trafficker Anson Wong Keng Liang, who successfully reduced his jail sentence from five years to 17 months after an appeal.