Man jailed for snakes on a plane

Kuala Lumpur – A Malaysian was jailed for six months and fined $61 000 for trying to smuggle 95 snakes out of the country, a sentence that campaigners said was too light.

Anson Wong, already convicted of trafficking in wildlife in the US in 2001, pleaded guilty last week and will start his sentence on September 13.

Under Malaysian law, Wong could have faced seven years in jail and fines of up to $32 000 for each snake up to a maximum of $320 000 or both.

Wong was detained when in transit from the Malaysian island state of Penang to the Indonesian capital Jakarta on August 26 when staff at Kuala Lumpur airport were alerted to a bag that had broken while on a conveyor belt.

They found 95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers and a matamata turtle inside the bag.

The US Department of Justice said Wong had pleaded guilty to a trafficking in the US in 2001 and was sentenced to 71 months in jail.

TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring organisation, said the sentence indicated unwillingness by Malaysian authorities to get tough with real wildlife criminals and to show the world it was serious about wildlife trafficking.

"This is a tragedy. It clearly tells wildlife traffickers that they have little to fear from Malaysian law," said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia regional director, William Schaedla.
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