27 Oct 2014 18:50pm
WINDHOEK, 27 OCT (NAMPA) - The docket in the case of three Chinese nationals arrested with rhino horns and a leopard skin at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in March, has been sent back to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol).
The docket, which was only availed to the Office of the Prosecutor-General (PG) Martha Ekandjo-Imalwa by the police investigators last week, has been sent back to NamPol's Specially-Protected Resources Unit with instructions for further investigations.
State Advocate Simba Nduna informed Windhoek Magistrate Johannes Shuuveni on Monday afternoon that the docket has been sent back to the police with further instructions in order for them to do proper investigations on a number of outstanding aspects of technicality.
The case was, thereafter, finally today remanded until 08 December this year in order to allow the police to complete their investigations as per the instructions from the PG's Office.
On that date, a decision by the PG's office on how to proceed with the matter will also be made available before court, Nduna assured both the court and the three men's defence lawyer Orben Sibeya today.
On 14 October this year, the three Chinese nationals each pleaded not guilty to the three charges levelled against them by the State.
They are Li Xiaoliang, 30; Li Zhibing, 53; and the 49-year-old Pu Xuexin.
The three pleaded not guilty to two counts under the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act, namely possession and export of controlled wildlife products in the form of 14 rhino horns and a leopard skin.
They also denied a third charge of illegal acquisition, use or possession of property that forms part of the proceeds of unlawful activities, which is an offence in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
On 14 October this year, the trio entered their pleas of not guilty 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 lawyer Sibeya.
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 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 on Monday remanded in police custody at the Windhoek Central Prison's holding cells, where they will be detained until their next court appearance on 08 December this year.