A convicted wildlife smuggler claims that the man who allegedly ordered a tiger and a bear from him in 2007 was a senior official in Vietnam's environmental police force.
Ho Chi Minh City investigators met Uong Ba Quyen of the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong on August 21 to investigate the charge, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.
Quyen attempted to illegally import a tiger and a bear in November 2007.
He now says he did so to fill an order placed by Vo Van Dong, director of the Southern Environmental Police Department--a division of the Ministry of Public Security.
Quyen was arrested in HCMC’s District 1 before he could deliver the consignment to Dong, who had ordered the animals at his café in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong.
A subsequent trial sentenced Quyen to eight months in jail.
“After being released, I began a search and finally found out that Dong, who ordered the tiger and bear, is actually a senior lieutenant colonel,” Quyen was quoted by Lao Dong as saying.
Major General Nguyen Xuan Ly, Dong’s superior, confirmed that Dong ordered the wildlife from Quyen in 2007.
However, he refused to elaborate on the issue.
“This is a confidential state matter, one we will not discuss with the press,” he said. "This is our case and we are responsible for it. Journalists have the right to attempt to investigate it but we have our own rules."
HCMC-based Lawyer Tran Hong Phong said judicial agencies should investigate how the buyer was identified.
Phong said it would have been illegal for Dong to entrap Quyen in the crime; it also seems unlikely that Dong set up the sting for any investigative purpose.
“If the buyer was a police officer, the crime is more serious,” Phong said.