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3 Pinoys in shark fins smuggling case deny charges

07 January 2020


Three Filipino tourists are set to deny a charge of violating Hong Kong’s law on the protection of endangered species by allegedly bringing in a huge amount of dried shark fins and seahorses last August.
 
The shark fins seized at HK airport . They're a popular delicacy among the Chinese
Jomar Goron, Aldrin Jay Lacuesta and Michael Roy Marcelino, aged between 21 and 36 years old, appeared before District Court Judge K. Kwok on Jan 7.

Their lawyer said the three would plead not guilty and proposed a four-day trial of the case starting Apr 20, which the court approved.
The prosecution said it will present 10 witnesses including a civilian expert and the officers who arrested the three and investigated the case.

The three defendants applied for bail backed by surety from a local man and a Filipina resident.

Judge Kwok granted bail to the defendants and told them to return to the court for their trial.
Goron, Lacuesta and Marcelino were arrested on arrival from Manila at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 23 last year after Customs officers found 180 kilos of dried shark fins and 500 grams in their check-in baggage.

The Customs and Excise Department estimated the market value of the seized goods at about $50,000. 
Sea horses are a popular item in Chinese traditional medicine

The three were charged in West Kowloon Court shortly after their arrests, but their case was moved to District Court on Dec 17.
 
Goron and Lacuesta were charged with “importing specimens of Appendix II species otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance”, referring to the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.
Marcelino was charged with “importing specimens of Appendix II species otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of Cap.586”.

Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting an endangered species without a license is liable to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.

The case is being prosecuted by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. – Vir B. Lumicao


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