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File photo: Folha de Maputo
Three National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) officers and a technician from the Forestry and Wildlife sector in Niassa province have been arrested on the orders of the provincial prosecutor’s office, accused of stealing 105 elephant tusks.
The theft took place between April 2016 and April last year, with the 105 tusks seized in the Republic of Cambodia.
A spokesman for the Niassa prosecutor’s office, Francisco Albano, quoted by the Noticias newspaper, said that the three SERNIC employees had participated in the diversion of 20 ivory tips deposited in the institution’s safe in the provincial capital, Lichinga.
According to the same source, the arrest of the technician assigned to the Provincial Forestry and Wildlife Service is connected with the disappearance of 85 tusks in the custody of his institution.
Part of the three tons of ivory seized last month at the Port of Maputo was stolen from the warehouses of the Provincial Directorate of Land, Environment and Rural Development and the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), both in the city of Lichinga.
The Niassa prosecutor’s office spokesman said that the preparatory phase of the criminal cases against the four detainees was underway, and that they would then be referred to court for trial.
The Mecula, Maua, Marrupa, Sanga, Majune and Muembe districts, which form part of Niassa National Reserve, are prone to elephants being killed by citizens, despite patrols carried out by rangers using aerial and ground resources.Source: Folha de Maputo