Vietnamese gets six years in jail for illegal logging in Malaysia

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A Vietnamese man has been sentenced to six years in jail in Malaysia for illegally felling agarwood trees at a forest reserve.

Nguyen Van Tien pleaded guilty to felling the agarwood trees, with two others still at large, at the Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve in Nibong Tebal on January 1, said a Tuesday report in Malaysia's The Star newspaper .

The 23-year-old was also fined RM200,000 (US$66). If he cannot pay the fee, then he will get another six months' jail.

The punishment was a first of its kind in Penang, said The Star.

Tien was earlier charged under the Forestry Act 1984 together with the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of RM500,000, or both, for such a violation.

But he asked for leniency, saying that he regretted committing the offence. The court proceedings were adjourned three times before the sentencing, partly to look for a Vietnamese translator.

Deputy public prosecutor Siti Aishah Ramlan asked the court to impose a sentence that would serve as a lesson to other would-be offenders, as the destruction of precious woods is rampant in Malaysia.

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