Monday, September 5, 2011

TWO AUSTRALIANS ARRESTED IN PORTUGAL IN EFFORT TO SMUGGLE RHINO HORNS ABROAD

Two Australian nationals, father and sons, ages 63 and 31, respectively, were arrested in Portugal last week for allegedly attempting to fly six rhino horns valued at US$565,000 out of the country in their checked luggage.

COMMENT: Dozens of European museums have reported the theft of rhino horns in recent months, including the Museum of Natural History at the University of Coimbra, in central Portugal, in April, although the two Aussies are not implicated in that theft. Under Portuguese law, the names of the suspects cannot be identified.

Rising demand, especially in Asia, and particularly China, and a crackdown on the illegal trade have made them extremely valuable. Rhino horn is commonly used in powdered form by people who believe they can help cure serious diseases, or boost sexual prowess. The two defendants were released on bail last week. Both could face prison sentences of five years. I wonder whether the court ordered their passports retained and determined whether they have other valid passports?


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