13 held for ivory trade in Gabon
Libreville - Police in Gabon have impounded stocks of ivory and arrested three people from Cameroon and 10 from Senegal and had them charged with trafficking, an ecological movement said on Friday.
"All 13 were presented to the state prosecutor on Wednesday" after being arrested last week, and charged with "trading in ivory, possession of ivory without authorisation, without a special agreement," an official of Support for the Application of the Law on Wildlife (the AALF project) told AFP.
The AALF project groups representatives of the ministry of water and forests with members of two non-governmental organisations that defend the environment and wildlife. Ivory trafficking has been illegal in Gabon since 1981.
"There is no more possible ivory trade here, because there are no special sales agreements. Elephant hunting was banned in 1981, it has never been made legal since," the AALF official said, asking not to be named.
Once charged, the official added, the 13 men were "taken to the prison" in Libreville, but two other Senegalese who were initially arrested with them were set free without charges.
The suspects were arrested during police raids in several districts of Libreville, when the police also seized 105kg of ivory, with an estimated value on the international market of "between €50 000 and €100 000", the AALF official said.
The state prosecutor ordered the imprisonment of the 13 men to prevent them fleeing the country or failing to turn up in court again, and also to "prevent them from giving information to other members of the network with links abroad", the source added.
The 13 men face prison sentences of between three and six months and fines of from 100 000 to 10 million CFA francs (€152 to €15 245).