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Interpol’s Dubai link in TZ animals scam

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by BAK, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. BAK

    BAK JF-Expert Member

    Jul 17, 2012
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    [TD="class: contentheading, width: 100%"]Interpol’s Dubai link in TZ animals scam [/TD]
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    [TD="class: createdate"]Monday, 16 July 2012 08:25 [/TD]
    By Mkinga Mkinga, The Citizen Reporter
    Dar es Salaam.

    The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has said investigations into the smuggling of live wild animals from Tanzania to Pakistan has established a link in Dubai, Saudi Arabia.Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has already interrogated a Pakistani believed to be the mastermind of the smuggling ring behind irregular export of the country’s wild animals, including elephants and lions.

    Sources within Interpol’s Dar es Salaam office said over the weekend that the investigators were now trying to uncover the Dubai link, a process that is likely to take two weeks.

    Initial investigations, said our sources, have established that the Pakistani smuggling suspect had close business associates based in Saudi Arabia. “What the investigators are now trying to do is to establish the link in Dubai,” said the sources

    The Citizen has been informed that investigations have so far implicated some senior Tanzanian government officials who are allegedly working in collusion with the smuggling ring.

    The Dar es Salaam Interpol sources allege that according to their counterparts in Pakistan, some officials within the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism are making the smuggling possible. On June 10, this year, FIA launched the probe in Karachi following a request by Interpol which had been approached by the Tanzanian government.

    “According to reports we have received from Karachi authorities, FIA has made a breakthrough in its investigations,” said the Interpol sources privy to the investigations.

    Last month, the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Khamis Kagasheki, admitted that the government was aware of the investigations that were in progress.

    “We hope for the best out of the investigations,” the minister had told The Citizen.

    Reports from Islamabad said FIA wrote a letter to the heads of the Karachi Zoological Gardens and Safari Park, asking about the “unlawful export” of wild animals from Africa.

    Reports from Islamabad said FIA wrote a letter to the heads of the Karachi Zoological Gardens and Safari Park, asking about the “unlawful export” of wild animals from Africa.

    The National Central Bureau — the local arm of Interpol — asked for complete information on the import of wild animals by a Pakistani national and his Karachi-based company (names withheld).

    The heads of the government-run facilities were asked to submit a report stating whether such wild animals were in Karachi. Interpol also asked about the credentials of the suspect.
    Mr Kagasheki said he could not offer more details as doing so could be taken as interfering with the probe.

    “What we are sure of is that the suspect is a criminal, but let’s allow Interpol to carry out their investigations,” he said, adding that his ministry was closely monitoring that matter.

    According to reports from Islamabad, four elephants arrived from Tanzania in 2009 under an agreement with the now-defunct city district government of Karachi.

    Four lions traceable to Tanzania were confiscated at Karachi Airport by the customs in 2010 because the animals were allegedly brought in on an expired permit.

    Mr Kagasheki said some of the permits the suspects used were forgeries and were the subject of investigation sby the Pakistani government.
    The lions, which arrived from Germany, first landed at Islamabad airport before they were further ferried to Karachi.

    Customs officials found both the importer and the airline that ferried the animals and imposed penalties on them.The animals were declared government property and kept at a zoo sine the wildlife department had no facility to keep them. But the company challenged the verdict and a case has been pending in court for several months.

    Another report said the elephants were sent as a gift to Karachi children from the Tanzanian government. It was not clear whether this claim was verified by the Pakistani authorities.

    Mr Kagasheki, however, dismissed this claim, saying: “Let us wait for the Interpol and Pakistani’s security organs to complete their investigations.” InAugust last year, MPs pressured the government to return 132 live animals and birds that were smuggled out of the country in 2010.

    In response to the MPs’ pressure, the government announced a one-year ban on licences for export of live animals.

    Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said then that measures would be taken to plug loopholes that made smuggling of live wild animals possible.

    In a related development, the then Natural Resources and Tourism minister Ezekiel Maige suspended the director of Wildlife, Mr Obeid Mbangwa, to pave the way for investigations into the smuggling of 116 and 16 live animals and birds respectively.

    Government sources had told The Citizen that there were 180 firms licensed to export live animals.
    It was revealed that 116 live animals, including four giraffes, were smuggled out of the country on November 24, last year, aboard a Qatari cargo plane through Kilimanjaro International Airport.
    Mr Pinda told the august House that a review would be made on the type of animals that could be exported, export procedures and rates of tariffs that exporters would have to pay.