Kisutu court adjourns case against ‘Ivory Queen’ yet again

10May 2016
The Guardian
Kisutu court adjourns case against ‘Ivory Queen’ yet again

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday adjourned the elephant tusk case facing a prominent Chinese businesswoman Yang Fenglan, (66), nicknamed the "Ivory Queen," because the original file of the case is at the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Chinese national Yang Feng Glan is known as the "Ivory Queen"

Prosecution, led by State Attorney Aloyce Mbunito, claimed before the court that although they were ready to read the preliminary hearing to the accused, he was asking the court to adjourn it because the original file was still at the DPP’s office.

Defence advocate Nehemia Nkono argued that this was the third time the case was appearing before the court and being postponed without good reason.

“This case is supposed to be finished by now, it has been here since 2014 and the accused have been suffering in custody,” he observed.

Senior resident magistrate Walialwande Lema who postponed the case on behalf of principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shahidi, who is conducting the case, told the prosecution to make sure that on May 23, this year, they come with proper answers about the preliminary hearing.

In April, the prosecution informed the court that the investigation into the case was complete and they were waiting for the DPP’s consent so that the case could be heard.

Yang is charged alongside Tanzanians Salvius Matembo and Manase Philemon. According to the prosecution, the accused committed the offence between January 1, 2000 and May 22, 2014.

It was alleged that Yang was involved in the smuggling and trading of 706 elephant tusks weighing 1,889 kilograms worth Sh5.4 bln/- without a licence from the director of wildlife.

Earlier it was reported that Yang was on the radar of authorities for a long time before an elite unit set up to fight poaching pounced on her in 2001.
She is alleged to have operated in Tanzania for 14 years as the main link between poachers and international buyers.

She has allegedly been financing people who have been killing elephants in protected areas, and she bought elephant tusks and supplied them to other people engaged in the illegal trade in ivory.