No bail for rhino horn suspects

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Roland Routh

Windhoek – Two Chinese nationals caught with two rhino horns on Thursday were denied bail in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court on Monday following their first appearance before Magistrate Eden Iyambo.

Yonghui Lu, 41, and Nan Chen, 29, who were both noted as Namibian citizens on the chargesheet were not asked to plead.

Public Prosecutor Rowan van Wyk told the court they are charged with possession of two rhino horns, weighing 5.5kg, valued at N$404,000.

He objected to bail, citing the seriousness of the offence and the interest of justice and society. He also cited fear of abscondment and of interference with the investigations as further reasons for withholding bail at this stage.

Mabushandje Ntinda from the Sisa Namandje stable, who appeared on behalf of Lu on private instruction, confirmed his appearance and told the magistrate that he will seek all warrants used at the time of the arrest for the purpose of a bail application, as well as records of an interpreter who was used at the time of the arrest.

Ntinda said he will also want to know if the horns were lawfully taken from his client and the sealing process of the exhibits.

Kadhila Amoomo from Amoomo and Associates confirmed his appearance on behalf of Chen and told the court he wishes to be provided with the entire record of proceedings emanating from the search warrants, the charging of the accused, as well as the chain of custody as far as the horns are concerned.

He further said he would also like to be presented with copies of warning statements, if any were issued, as well as the chain of custody that followed.

He asked the court to tell the State to be alert, as the defense will need those discoveries soonest to commence with bail proceedings.

The matter was remanded to February 13 for further investigations and the bail application.

The accused are in custody at Windhoek police station.

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