The International of Elephant and Rhino Gravediggers sentenced

8 Sep 2021


The Criminal Court of Rennes (France) today imposed exemplary sentences on eight men of Irish, English, Chinese and Vietnamese origin guilty of trafficking in elephant ivory and rhino horn on French territory and, for some of them, of exporting it to Asia. Seven were found guilty of having committed these offences in conspiracy.

The four Irish and Englishmen known to be members of the Rathkeale Rovers clan were given sentences ranging from one year suspended to 4 years in prison, one of which was suspended. None of them were present at the hearings. Arrest warrants were issued against the two culprits sentenced to prison.

The Vietnamese national, at whose home 16 tusks and a jar with 20 seahorses without any document justifiying their legal origin had been found, as well as 23 certificates corresponding to elephant tusks that were no longer on his premises, was sentenced to 4 years in prison, 2 of which were suspended. His right-hand man was sentenced for complicity to 2 years in prison, one of which was suspended.
A cook of Chinese origin was sentenced to 36 months in prison, 18 months of which were suspended.
A last man of Chinese origin was sentenced for unlawful detention of ivory to an 18-month suspended sentence. He is the only convicted for whom membership of an organised gang has been excluded.

The customs fines imposed total 316,000 €. The ivory, horn and cash seized during the investigation are confiscated. The moral damage of the NGO Robin des Bois was recognised at 20,000 €.

According to Charlotte Nithart, president of the NGO Robin des Bois, this judgement has educational and deterrent effects on those who engage in wildlife trafficking and speculate on endangered species. Before trafficking, there is poaching, which causes social and environmental havoc.

However, Robin des Bois regrets that the directors of Cannes Enchères have not been prosecuted in this case. The auction house had sold 600 kg of raw ivory to one of the convicts without the necessary guarantees to prevent their illegal export. Its director and an associate even made an all-expenses-paid trip to Vietnam with one of the convicts, allegedly to carry out expert appraisals.

The origin of the 14.7 kg rhinoceros horn, which is one of the piece of evidence, has not yet been clarified.

See press release n°1 “The International of Elephant and Rhino Gravediggers on Trial in Rennes, France”, September 6, 2021.


Home page picture: © Gawie Malan





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