Bail ruling in rhino horn case on Thursday

21 May 2014 18:50pm
WINDHOEK, 21 MAY (NAMPA) - A ruling in the bail application of three Chinese nationals arrested with 14 rhino horns at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in March this year, will be handed down on Thursday.
The verdict in the bail application will be made known by Magistrate George Mbundu in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court in Katutura at 09h00.
Magistrate Mbundu presided over the hearing of the three men's formal bail application, which started before him last Thursday.
The 14 rhino horns, valued at N.dollars 2.3 million, were allegedly poached in Namibia during the course of this year.
The three accused persons in the matter are Li Xiaoliang, 30, Li Zhibing, 53, and the 49-year-old Pu Xuexin.
In their bid, the three men told Windhoek Magistrate Mbundu that they want to be released on bail because the Namibian prison environment has now become too harsh and difficult for them to handle.
They told the court that they will not try to abscond from Namibia once released on bail, and that they will abide by all bail conditions as may be attached to their release.
They further said they would not attempt to interfere with police investigations if the court grants them bail.
However, Public Prosecutor Antony Wilson is objecting to the granting of bail on the grounds that the three men might abscond from Namibia to other countries in order to evade prosecution.
Windhoek-based defence lawyer Olivier Lino is defending the three Chinese nationals.
They are each charged with the illegal possession of specially-protected resources (animal products).
Apart from the 14 rhino horns, the Namibian Police Force's Aviation Unit also found a leopard skin in their luggage at Namibia’s international airport on 23 March 2014 as they were about to fly to Hong Kong via Johannesburg in neighbouring South Africa.
Xiaoliang told the court that he can afford to pay N.dollars 20 000 bail, while Zhibing said he can post N.dollars 5 000 to be released.