Chinese 'Ivory Queen' will fight Tanzanian charges

2015-10-13 05:34
Kenyan officials display some of more than 1 600 pieces of illegal ivory found hidden inside bags of sesame seeds in freight travelling from Uganda, in Kenya's major port city of Mombasa. (File, AP)

Kenyan officials display some of more than 1 600 pieces of illegal ivory found hidden inside bags of sesame seeds in freight travelling from Uganda, in Kenya's major port city of Mombasa. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dar es Salaam - A prominent Chinese businessperson, dubbed the "Ivory Queen", is innocent of Tanzanian charges that she financed a criminal network responsible for smuggling tusks from more than 350 elephants, her lawyer said on Monday.

Yang Feng Glan, 66, was charged last week along with two Tanzanian men with smuggling 706 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004 worth $2.51m.

"Ms Glan is innocent of all charges ... We will fight the allegations against her in court," her lawyer Nehemia Mkoko told Reuters.

Earlier on Monday a court in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam rejected Glan's plea for bail, saying only the high court had the competence to grant it.

"The decision of the lower court means that we can now proceed to the high court and file our bail application," said Mkoko.

"My client has not been allowed to enter any plea on the charges against her because the [lower] Kisutu court does not have jurisdiction to try this case. When the case is transferred to the high court for hearing, she will enter a plea of not guilty."

Glan, a Swahili-speaker who has been in the east African nation since the 1970s, is secretary-general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council and owns a popular Chinese restaurant in Dar es Salaam, according to police sources.

In court documents seen by Reuters, prosecutors said Glan "intentionally did organise, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies" weighing a total of 1.889 tons.

The East African nation's elephant population shrank from 110 000 in 2009 to little more than 43 000 in 2014, according to a census released in June, with conservation groups blaming "industrial-scale" poaching.

Demand for ivory from fast-growing Asian economies such as China and Vietnam, where it is turned into jewels and ornaments, has led to a spike in poaching across Africa.

Conservation of African big game has also been in the international spotlight in the last few months because of the killing of famed Zimbabwean lion Cecil by an American dentist.

China, the world's biggest consumer of elephant tusks, announced in February a one-year ban on the import of African ivory carvings, but conservationists say corruption is fuelling poaching in Tanzania.

The Elephant Action League, a US-based conservation group, said it believed Glan to be "the most notorious ivory trafficker brought to task so far".

Read more on:    yang feng glan  |  tanzania  |  china  |  poaching  |  east africa  |  conservation

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.