Prague, Jan 6 (CTK) – A Prague district court started yesterday to deal with the case of trafficking in rhino horns in which 16 people have been charged, facing up to eight years in prison for an unauthorised handling of protected animals living freely in the wild.
Ten out of the charged came to the court. They dismiss any wrongdoing. Six people have excused themselves.
The state attorney says the alleged gang members were involved in the horns trafficking in 2011-13.
According to the file, the organisers and mediators were sending hunters to South Africa to hunt for white square-lipped rhinoceros.
They paid the hunters´ stay and other costs that usually exceeded one million crowns and secured permits to export the trophies to the Czech Republic.
The horns were transported via the airports in Bratislava and in Prague in most cases.
The trophies can be exported from South Africa, but trading in them is illegal.
According to the state attorney, the gang sold or attempted to sell 24 horns whose value was put at almost 96 million crowns.
The organisers wanted to export the horns to Vietnam without the required export and import permits. They allegedly wanted to sell them there because the price in Vietnam exceeds all hunting costs several times.
The Vietnamese believe that rhino horns powder cures cancer.
The Czech judiciary dealt with a similar case last year, too. Three citizens of Vietnam were sentenced to three to five years in prison for the illegal export of horns from the Czech Republic. The verdict is not yet valid.