Singapore

Two men jailed for smuggling animals from Malaysia

The law caught up with two men who tried to smuggle animals across Woodlands Checkpoint in separate incidents.

Air steward Khalid Awad Bamadhaj, 49, was sentenced yesterday to a month's jail for smuggling 22 Indian star tortoises, a protected species, from Malaysia.

A second charge for transporting the animals in a cramped cloth bag without food or water, which caused them unnecessary pain, was taken into consideration for sentencing.

Khalid, who bought the tortoises at RM50 (S$17) to RM70 each from a pet shop in Selangor, was caught at the Woodlands Checkpoint on June 23, 2016.

The tortoises were handed over to Wildlife Reserves Singapore for custody.

His lawyer, Mr Amarick Gill, said in mitigation that the tortoises belonged to Khalid's sister, who died last year of breast cancer, and it was her "dying wish" for him to look after them in Singapore.

Khalid intends to appeal against his sentence.

In another case, Malaysian tour bus driver Sudrak Naum, 30, was jailed for eight months yesterday for illegally importing 121 live birds from Malaysia and for failing to transport them safely.

Ten boxes containing 44 fischer's lovebirds (a protected species), 55 red-whiskered bulbuls, 20 white-rumped shama and two spotted doves were seized by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers at Woodlands Checkpoint.

Eight birds died on arrival.

District Judge Adam Nakhoda, who presided over both cases, said animal smuggling has been "brought more to fore", with Singapore poised as a "transitional hub for illegal wildlife trade".

He added that a general deterrence sentence was in order.

It is illegal to import or export animals on Singapore's "scheduled species" list without a valid permit. Offenders can be jailed for up to two years or fined up to $50,000, or both.

COURT & CRIME