No Bail for Indian in Ivory Case

AN Indian man facing charges of possessing and dealing in elephant tusks heard in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Friday that he will not be granted bail at this stage.

In a ruling delivered at the end of the hearing of a bail application by Rajaiyah Ranjith Kumar (30), Magistrate Jermaine Muchali said in his opinion Kumar failed to show that he would not abscond from Namibia if he was granted bail.

The magistrate noted that Kumar is an Indian citizen who does not own property in Namibia, that his wife lives in India, and that evidence in his case links him to the scene where police officers discovered four elephant tusks in a car in Windhoek’s northern industrial area on the night of 11 June.

Kumar and two Chinese citizens, Hou Xuecheng (37) and Sha Zhiwei (27), were arrested after the discovery of ivory in a car whose the driver ran away when the police arrived at the scene where he was due to meet one or more of the accused.

The three men are charged with dealing in and possession of controlled wildlife products, which is an offence in terms of the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act.

Hou is further charged with another count of possession of controlled wildlife products, after the police also discovered a cheetah skin and a leopard skin in his office in the China Town shopping complex in the northern industrial area.

During his bail hearing Kumar told Magistrate Muchali that he met Hou for dinner on the evening of 11 June. He said Hou received a phone call during their meeting and with that call he was asked to meet someone in the vicinity of the power station in the northern industrial area.

Kumar said he accompanied Hou to the supposed meeting at around 23h00. When they got to the scene where the meeting was to take place the police also arrived, and another person, who had also arrived there in a yellow Toyota Conquest, ran away from the scene.

When police officers searched the car of the person who had fled they found four elephant tusks in the vehicle.

Magistrate Muchali said it was too early to determine if there was a g case against Kumar or not. However, since he was found at the scene where the ivory was discovered there was something to link him to the charges at this stage, the magistrate said.

Kumar told the court during the bail hearing that he has a company that employs 30 people in Namibia. His business includes a shop and a brick factory, the court heard. Kumar also told the court that his business would collapse if he was not granted bail.

Defence lawyer Vetu Uanivi is representing the three accused men, who have to appear in court again on 8 August. Verinao Kamahene represented the State during the bail hearing.

Source : The Namibian

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