Vietnam soldiers punished after posting "gruesome' photos of monkeys

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An army unit in the Central Highlands of Gia Lai Tuesday announced that it has sacked a soldier and punished two others after gruesome Facebook photos of them posing with endangered monkeys stirred public outrage.

Nguyen Van Quang, 20, was dismissed after the photos posted on his Facebook page on July 6 enraged the public and prompted the Army Corps No.3 to launch an investigation into the case.

Two other soldiers, whose identities were not revealed, received warnings.

Speaking to Vietnamnet on Tuesday, Commander of the Army Corps No.3, Major-General Nguyen Duc Hai said: "Those soldiers who committed gruesome acts towards wildlife, affecting the unit, will be strictly punished to set an example for other soldiers"¦"

According to the findings of the corps' inspectors, the soldiers bought the monkeys, later identified as critically endangered gray-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea), for a total VND1.2 million, and hired someone else to prepare them as food. The animals are protected by law in Vietnam and it is illegal to poach them.

During the cooking process, the soldiers took photos of one monkey with a cigarette in its mouth, and took pictures as they dunked one of the animals in boiling water to remove its skin before disemboweling.

Inspectors said they have also arrested Ha Van Tu, 37, a native of the adjacent Dak Lak Province, for allegedly poaching the monkeys and selling them to the soldiers.

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Two of Tu's alleged accomplices have been charged and are still at large.

The monkeys are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world.

The corps is now searching for the two other suspects.

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