"The suspects, with the initials A and B, have been found guilty of smuggling and trading the protected animal species. They will be imprisoned for three years in accordance with Article 21 No.2b of Law No.5 of 1990 on Conservation of Natural Resources," Zia Ul Jannah, a judge, stated during a hearing in Bengkalis, Riau Province.
Jannah noted that the 101 pangolins were rescued and later released by the Natural Resources Conservation Office (BBKSDA), while a boat used to transport the animals will be handed over to the treasury agency.
During the previous hearing, the general prosecutor had called on the judges to award a sentence of four years and six months subsidiary in jail and a penalty of Rp100 million to the two suspects.
During the final hearing at the district court, some officials of the conservation agency`s law enforcement as well as a representative of World Wildlife Fund Anid Wikasari were present.
According to Marhot Pohan, an official of the Conservation Office, the two suspects were couriers assigned to transport the pangolins from Paknik River in Riau to the Malaysian-flagged boats.
For every transaction, the suspects would have received Rp200 thousand to Rp800 thousand.
On Oct 24, last year, a joint task force of the Navy`s Western Fleet Quick Response 1.6 raided the two suspects in the Roro-Pakning waters and later seized the 101 pangolins.
"Bengkalis is one of the entry points of the global black market for protected animals. These pangolins, for instance, were planned to be smuggled into Malaysia, China, and Vietnam," Wikasari remarked.
Hence, following the trial, the Conservation official and the environmentalist expressed hope that the penalty will serve as a deterrent for other smugglers planning to conduct illegal activities.
Once the law enforcement apparatus succeeds in deterring the smugglers, the pangolins will be safeguarded from becoming extinct, she added.
Reported by Asripilyadi, Gianini Sonnevil