Another suspect arrested for poaching doucs in central Vietnam

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Inspectors from an army unit in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai Friday arrested another man for allegedly poaching two rare monkeys and selling them to a group of soldiers, VnExpress reported.

Ha Van Que, 37, is among three suspected poachers who sold the gray-shanked gray-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea) for VND1.2 million (US$56.6) to the soldiers, the news website said, citing Army Corps No.3 officials.

Earlier inspectors had arrested Ha Van Tu, also 37, it said, adding they were looking for the third suspect.

The army unit launched an investigation into the case after one of the soldiers, 20-year-old Nguyen Van Quang, posted online the photos of them doing gruesome things to the animals, leading to a public outcry.

On Tuesday, the army dismissed Quang and issued warnings to two other soldiers involved. However, according to an announcement issued by the army one day later, a total of 11 soldiers were found to have been involved in the case, Tuoi Tre reported.

Three of them, including Quang, were dismissed, while others were "disciplined."

Speaking to the Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law) newspaper, Commander of the Army Corps No.3, Major-General Nguyen Duc Hai said the soldiers did not poach and directly kill the animals, and that their initial purpose was to buy them for meat

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"To be honest, it is not easy to tell differences between monkeys and douc langurs. They just thought that the animals were monkeys; if they had known they were protected wildlife, they would not have dared to buy them," Hai said.

However, it was "unacceptable" that they took such photos and posted them online, Hai said.

The punishments were handed down to the soldiers after the army leaders took into account other factors like their young age, and their lack of knowledge about laws due to their poor family backgrounds, the Phap Luat TPHCM report quoted the commander as saying.

The case is being investigated further.

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