4 more suspects questioned over torture and killing of rare monkeys

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Four more people have been accused of being involved in the torture and killing of endangered monkeys that made headlines in Vietnam last week when photos were posted online.

A Thursday Vietnamnet report cited Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law) as saying Army Corps No.3 in the Central Highlands of Gia Lai is investigating other people in the photographs posted by Nguyen Van Quang, a 20-year-old soldier, on his Facebook page on July 6.

The new suspects are not serving in military, and two of them were "directly" involved in the trading and killing the monkeys, believed to be the gray-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea), the report said.

Earlier, on July 19, Quang and two other soldiers were summoned for questioning after his photos evoked public outrage.

The soldiers claimed that they did not poach the monkeys, but bought them from local people and hired them to process them, and during the process they tortured the animals and took the photos.

In the 12 photos, Quang and other young men, some in uniform, were seen torturing two monkeys, one of which was apparently pregnant. They were also seen putting cigarettes in the mouth of a monkey, tying another one with rope, and dunking one of them in boiling water to get rid of its fur and disembowel it.

In some other photos, the men posed with the head and skulls of the animals.

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According to Vietnamnet, the Army Corps has yet to finalize any action against the soldiers, but several lawyers believed that Quang could be sacked from the military as the strictest punishment.

Under Vietnamese laws, he could face a jail term of up to seven years and fined up to VND100 million (US$4,800), if he was convicted of poaching, torturing and killing the monkeys, the report quoted Vu Thai Ha, chairman of the Hanoi-based YouMe Law Company, as saying.

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