Hoang Tuan Hai in court in Nha Trang__ Lao Động

Hoang Tuan Hai in court in Nha Trang, image credit: Lao Động

The world’s largest seizure of illegally trafficked marine turtles, mostly endangered Hawksbills, has finally brought Hoang Tuan Hai to face justice in court January 10, 2018, according to Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV).

ENV was present to monitor the trial, along with ten online and print journalists and VTV, Vietnam’s main TV channel. The accused spoke only briefly during the proceedings however  he did claim not to realize that trafficking in 10 tonnes of endangered marine turtles was a criminal offence. Ignorance of the law, however apparently far-fetched, is no defense in law.

Apparently these turtles were destined for sale in the Chinese mainland.

ENV says “While there is considerable satisfaction to be derived from these legal proceedings, it is widely believed that Hoang Tuan Hai is a fall guy for his brother, Hoang Minh Cuong, the real brains behind this criminal network.”

Part of the 10 tonne stockpile of dead sea turtles seized in Vietnam in 2014. ENV image and copyright.

Part of the 10 tonne stockpile of dead sea turtles seized in Vietnam in 2014. ENV image and copyright.

Following information provided by ENV in 2014, the police in Nha Trang, central Vietnam, raided six warehouses being used by Hoang Tuan Hai and his brother, Hoang Minh Cuong. In total, 10 tonnes (22,046lbs) of dead sea turtles, mainly hawksbill turtles, were recovered. It is estimated that the remains amounted to 7,000 individual animals.

After the raids, which rightly attracted worldwide attention, ENV applied constant pressure on the authorities to ensure this outrage against nature was brought to a courtroom. This finally became a reality on Thursday.

The bench adjourned the trial after two hours to enable prosecutors to rethink the indictment and bring in more serious charges that would attract a stiffer penalty,” reports Tom Edgar, ENV’s International Communications Editor.

If you would like to find out more about the background to this case, please see ENV’s explanatory video by clicking here:  https://goo.gl/yqnzUD

For more information on Education for Nature Vietnam please see the ENV website www.envietnam.org