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Notorious rhino poaching ringleader released early from prison, deported to Thailand

Chumlong Lemtongthai

This photo of Chumlong Lemtongthai was taken as he was escorted aboard an Etihad flight on Wednesday night en route to Thailand © Killing for Profit

Chumlong Lemtongthai, a key figure in the notorious Xaysavang rhino horn and wildlife trafficking network, was released from a South African prison last night (Wednesday) and deported to Thailand, according to the Killing for Profit Facebook page.

Lemtongthai was famously sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2012 for his involvement in a pseudo-hunting ring which was document in the book Killing for Profit. He pleaded guilty to charges of exporting rhino horn from South Africa to Asian markets, and admitted to operating bogus ‘legal’ hunts by paying prostitutes to act as trophy hunters, and then stealing the horn for illegal trade.

Subsequently his imprisonment was reduced on appeal to the high court to 30 years.

Two years later, in 2014, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal reduced his sentence by half, from 30 years down to 13 years and a R1-million fine. At the time, acting deputy judge president, Mahomed Navsa, said that “the sentence of 30 years imprisonment is too severe and induces a sense of shock. It is disproportionate when compared to the minimum sentences statutorily prescribed for other serious offences”.

Lemtongthai served just over half that, and is now en route to Thailand.

Chumlong Lemtongthai

Chumlong Lemtongthai was initially sentenced to 40 years in prison. Image source: Mail & Guardian



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