Convictions in rhino horn smuggling case

Three Vietnamese caught trying to send African horns to Vietnam

Prague, June 19 (ČTK) — Three Vietnamese were convicted of illegal export of rhinoceros horns from the Czech Republic earlier this week, court spokeswoman Zuzana Barochová told the Czech News Agency today.

The Prague 6 district court gave a five-year prison sentences to two of them and a three-year sentence to the third, Barochová said.

The verdict can be still appealed.

According to the indictment, they were trying to export to Vietnam the horns of a rhinoceros hunted down by a Czech hunter in South Africa.

The Vietnamese community is of the view that rhino powder can treat cancer.

The consignment with the horns was seized at the Václav Havel Airport Prague in December 2013. The police then raided the Sapa marketplace in Prague, where many Vietnamese vendors run their businesses.

The rhino horns found at the airport weighed 6,770 grams in total were hidden in a parcel with electrical insulation material heading for Vietnam, according to reports at the time.

Czech Environmental Inspectorate (CEI) said the price of the seized horns would be some $360,000 on the black market.

The customs officers found the rhino horns during a regular X-ray check.

The consignment contained various types of insulation material and the horns were hidden in a spool with an electrical cord.

The customs officers had to remove several layers, including resin, a plastic wrap and tar.

The airport customs officers said rhino horns are a valuable raw material for traditional Asian medicine. However, their real positive effect has never been scientifically proved.

The court in Prague 6 also received a charge against a 16-member Czech-Vietnamese group over the export of rhino horns, but it has returned the case for more investigation.

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