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  Straits Times 17 Jun 06
Jail and fined for shipping endangered turtles

Channel NewsAsia 16 Jun 06
Indonesian arrested for attempting to
smuggle protected turtle species through S'pore

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : A 58-year-old Indonesian has been arrested and charged in court for attempting to smuggle protected freshwater turtle species through Singapore.

Acting on a tip-off, officers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) swooped in on a vessel which had arrived from Tembilahan, Sumatra. There, officers found 2,520 South Asian box turtles housed in plastic crates and kept in a compartment under the deck of the ship. A fake Indonesian permit was also presented to AVA to secure release for the contraband.

The suspect, who is the ship's captain, claimed that the turtles, worth some S$10,000, were meant for a buyer in Batam who was planning to export them to Hong Kong.

This is the first case involving a commercial consignment of a protected freshwater turtle species in transit through Singapore without a valid permit from the exporting country. Such offences carry a penalty of a fine of up to S$50,000 and/or up to two years' jail. The illegal specimens would also be seized by the AVA. - CNA/ms

Straits Times 17 Jun 06

Jail and fined for shipping endangered turtles

AN INDONESIAN boat captain was jailed for five months and fined $20,000 yesterday for transporting more than 2,000 endangered turtles without a valid export permit.

Sustrisno Alkaf, 58, is the first person to be prosecuted for transhipment of scheduled species here since the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act was amended in March.

One of the main amendments enables enforcement action to be taken against illegal transhipments through Singapore of wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). Penalties have also been raised from $5,000 to $50,000 for each scheduled species, up to a limit of $500,000, or a jail term of up to two years.

Sustrisno was arrested at the Jurong Fishing Port on Tuesday with 72 crates containing 2,520 live South Asian Box turtles, which he was shipping from Sumatra to Batam without a valid Cites export permit.

Of the 5,420 soft shell turtles found on board, 2,520 were found to be Cites-protected. He had stopped in Singapore to unload 2,900 non-scheduled species of soft shell turtles to three importers.

The 2,520 illegal South Asian Box turtles, worth about $10,000, were destined for Hong Kong.

Pressing for a deterrent sentence, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said this illegal trade was hard to detect and damaging to Singapore.

In meting out the sentence, District Judge Danielle Yeow took into account the large number of turtles Sustrisno had. He will spend an extra two months in jail as he is unable to pay the fine.

Arrangements are being made with the Indonesian authorities to return the turtles either today or tomorrow. As of yesterday, more than 30 have died.

Related articles on Singapore:wildlife trade
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