14 Oct 2014 11:32am
WINDHOEK, 14 OCT (NAMPA) - Three Chinese nationals arrested with 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin at the Hosea Kutako International Airport on 23 March 2014, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday.
They are Li Xiaoliang, 30; Li Zhibing, 53; and the 49-year-old Pu Xuexin.
The three each face a charge of the illegal possession of specially-protected resources; a charge of attempting to illegally export such animal products from Namibia to other countries without having valid export permits; and a charge of having illegally and unlawfully acquired such products without having proper documents.
The trio entered their pleas to the three counts in terms of Section 119 of the Namibian Criminal Procedures Act (Act 51) of 1977, and in the presence of their privately-sponsored local defence lawyers Orben Sibeya and Kalundu Kamwi.
Their case has now been forwarded to the Office of Prosecutor-General (PG) Martha Ekandjo-Imalwa for her to take a decision on whether the three foreigners will stand trial in the Regional Court or the Windhoek High Court.
They will return to the Windhoek Magistrate's Court along Mungunda Street in Katutura on 24 October 2014 to hear the PG's decision.
They appeared before Windhoek Magistrate Alpha Haihambo on Monday afternoon, with Public Prosecutor Erick Naikaku representing the State.
On 22 May this year, Windhoek Magistrate George Mbundu refused to grant bail to the three on the grounds that they were facing very serious charges.
Another reason for the refusal of bail was that it was not in the interest of the public and the administration of justice to release the three men on bail while investigations into their case were still ongoing.
The magistrate also said he was not really convinced that the three men would stay in Namibia once released on bail.
In their failed bail bid, the three men told Magistrate Mbundu that they wanted to be released on bail because the Namibian prison environment has become too harsh and difficult for them to handle.
The 14 rhino horns, valued at N.dollars 2.3 million, were allegedly poached in Namibia during the course of this year.
The leopard skin was valued at N.dollars 50 000.
The three were again remanded in police custody at the Windhoek Central Prison's holding cells, where they will be detained until their next court appearance.