The High Court in Lilongwe has adjourned to March 15, 2021 an appeal case involving four Chinese nationals who were sentenced on wildlife crimes.
The charges range from possession of ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, to wildlife trafficking.
The nationals, who are currently serving jail sentences of between 7 to 11 years respectively, are appealing against both their conviction and sentence.
“We made an appeal to the High Court against conviction because some of them were convicted for possessing pieces of rhino horns which were not found with them but were found, they were found in the rooms of other people.
“We are also appealing against the sentence because we thought the sentences were manifestly excessive, we were praying the Court can reduce the sentence,” said Chrispine Ndalama, lawyer representing the appellants.
And on his part, private prosecutor Andy Kaonga has argued that the sentences are reasonable in accordance with crimes the defendants committed.
“Obviously the people possessed the respective materials, they were given the sentence of 7 years and when you look at the sentencing guidelines, it says that someone should start at 6 years.
“And looking at the way offence was committed and also looking at the rhino, rhinos are extremely very rare and as the lower Court said the people wanted to traffic the respective species out of the country so we are confident that the Court will confirm the sentence, if anything maybe even enhance it,” said Kaonga.
Yanwu Zhuo and Ya Shen Zhuo were sentenced to a total of 7 years in prison each for possession of rhino horn while Li Hao Yuan was sentenced to total 11 years in prison (as 7 years for possession of rhino horn and four years for an illegal possession firearm, to be served consecutively, including 1.5 years for possession of pangolin scales, to be served concurrently too.
Quinhua Zhang was sentenced to 11 years in prison (7 years for possession of rhino horn and 4 years for an illegal firearm, which is being served consecutively too.
The defendants were originally arrested on May 9, 2019 as part of a set of coordinated police raids across a number of residences in Lilongwe.
Justice Annabel Mtalimanja has since adjourned the matter to March 15, 2021.