Vietnamese agencies in legal deadlock over turtle egg theft

Thanh Nien News

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Sea turtle eggs seized by Con Dao park rangers. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Sea turtle eggs seized by Con Dao park rangers. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre


Police and prosecutors from the southern island of Con Dao have been disagreeing for weeks over whether to start criminal proceedings in a theft case involving 116 sea turtle eggs.
The case reportedly happened on June 17 when park rangers caught Pham Van Tan, 28, stealing the eggs at the Con Dao National Park, according to media reports.
The Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources later concluded that the eggs belong to the endangered green sea turtle species (Chelonia mydas).
On July 27, Con Dao police requested local prosecutors ratify their proposal for a criminal investigation into charges of “violating regulations on the protection of animals listed as endangered, precious and rare.”
District prosecutors, however, rejected the proposal.
The chief prosecutor, Tran Thanh Tam, reportedly said that “eggs” could not be treated as “animals,” meaning there was no legal basis for a criminal case. He also said the provincial prosecutor’s office of Ba Ria-Vung Tau supported this decision.
Meanwhile, park rangers and police insisted that Tan should be criminally probed. Tan has repeatedly stolen sea turtle eggs in the park, they said.
The man has not been arrested as the debate continues.

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