Sunday, 28 July 2013

Victory for justice as ivory poaching kingpin gets five year jail sentence in Congo

Poaching kingpin had ‘influential connections'
July 2013. Conservationists are celebrating following the news that Pépito, the kingpin of an ivory poaching and trafficking ring in Republic of Congo, was sentenced to five years in jail this week.

The imprisonment of Pépito, whose real name is Ngondjo Ghislain, represents a coup for African Parks, who, alongside Government officials and other NGOs, worked tirelessly to secure the arrest and imprisonment of the notorious poacher who operated around Odzala-Kokoua National Park.

Naftali Honig, co-ordinator of PALF, an NGO that promotes proper judicial process, said Pepito's imprisonment was an "almost unprecedented success" in Congo and could be attributed to the diligence of the regional Court in Ewo. He praised African Parks Network, WCS and the European Union who made the effort to attend the court case in Ewo, which is almost 600 km away from Brazzaville.

‘Sense of impunity'
"For more than a decade Odzala-Kokoua National Park and the Cuvette-Ouest region of Congo were plagued with the crippling presence of Pépito. His sense of impunity expired this week when he was delivered to Brazzaville prison to serve his five-year prison sentence," said Honig.

Leon Lamprecht, African Parks' Manager for Odzala-Kokoua described Pépito's jailing as "a victory for justice in Congo. Pépito allegedly had influential connections that previously secured him immunity against prosecution and we are very relieved to have him behind bars for five years," said Lamprecht.

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