Chinese freedom bid in rhino horns case flops

BY Tinashe Mungazi

The seven Chinese nationals accused of illegal possession of 20,98kg of rhino horns valued at $1 million will continue languishing in remand prison after their application for discharge was yesterday thrown out by a Hwange magistrate.

The defence team led by Givemore Mvhiringi of Mhviringi and Associates had applied for dismissal of the case, which it said was riddled with inconsistencies.

However, regional magistrate Collet Ncube said the State had established a case, which the accused had to answer.

“It is not in dispute that the seven accused persons resided together at a rented property while in totality we can’t ran away from the fact that the packed rhino pieces were found there,” Ncube said.

“It is my conclusion that there is a possibility that the element of said items being found in the same room means they could have belonged to accused persons. I disagree with the defense counsel that the State has not presented enough evidence and that State has failed to prove a prima facie case to put the accused to answer. It is my conclusion that the accused persons have a case to answer and should be put to their defense.”

The seven were remanded in custody to March 19 to allow the defense to prepare its case before a High court circuit.
Zeng Denghui (18), Peicong Wang (35), Lin Cheng (23) Yu Xian (25) Long Zhu (23) Chen Xiangfu (30) and Qiu Jinchang (29) were last year in December arrested after being found in possession of rhino horns, following a raid by authorities at a rented Victoria Falls house.

The accused persons had arrived in the country at almost the same time, about two months prior to their arrest.

The trial faced initial delays as the courts sought for an interpreter. Martha Cheda represented the State.

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