16 jailed for five years for poaching lions in Gujarat

February 26th, 2009 - 11:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, Feb 26 (IANS) A Gujarat court Thursday sentenced seven women and nine men to five years in jail for poaching the rare Asiatic lion that has its last home in the state.
They were also fined Rs.2,000. This was the third and final lot of sentencing in the notorious poaching case.

A Bhavnagar court of Chief Judicial Magistrate I.A. Shaikh pronounced the verdict.

Special public prosecutor Praful Kotia told IANS that the 16 people were convicted under sections 120 & 429 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which carries a maximum of four years imprisonment and Rs.1,000 fine. They were also convicted under the Wildlife Protection Act which carries a sentence of five years and Rs.1,000 fine. Both the sentences, however, will run concurrently.

“These people had already served jail term of one year and nine months and will be serving additional three odd years in jail,” Kotia said.

“A praiseworthy thing the judge did was to order the jail authorities to take proper care of the children of the accused with regards to their education and upbringing during their parents’ prison term,” Kotia said.

A Junagadh Court had earlier sentenced 20 people to three years imprisonment and fine of Rs 10,000 in the case.

“What is notable is that today’s (Thursday) judgement is the third consecutive conviction in the lion poaching case. In all the three cases it was the same gang. What held true in earlier two cases held true in this one too,” said Inspector General of Police (Prisons) Keshav Kumar.

“One of the accused Prabhakar Keshav Gajakosh, a politician and timber contractor was also sentenced today (Thursday). He was the international link for the Indian wildlife mafia and was arrested by Karnataka police on tip-off by the Gujarat police; 23 tiger skins, 20 leopard skins and 23 other skins worth over Rs.10 million were seized from him,” Kumar said.

The accused were arrested for poaching six Asiatic lions from Gir and illegal possession of wildlife articles. Two lion claws too were recovered from the main accused Kuntar Singh and Nanaka Singh during their arrest in April last year.

“With 20 people convicted earlier and with 16 Thursday a total of 36 people have been convicted not including a teenager who is out on bail,” Kotia said.

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