Young soldiers questioned over monkey torture photos

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An army unit based in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai on Thursday questioned a soldier who posted photos of the torturing and slaughtering of two endangered monkeys on his Facebook page.

Nguyen Van Quang, a 20-year-old soldier of the Army Corps No.3 under the Central Highlands Corps, was summoned along with several other soldiers involved in the case.

On July 16, Quang uploaded 12 photos showing himself and other young men, some in army uniforms, sticking cigarettes in the mouths of an endangered monkey seemingly already dead -- and doing other bizarre things on Facebook.

In some of the photos the men have another monkey tied with rope. It is alive and it is not clear what they did with it.

Then there are photos of the men dunking one of the animals in boiling water to get rid of their fur, and disemboweling them.

One of them, grinning, poses with the head of one of the langurs, while others pose with the two animals' skulls. 

The acts of the men allegedly took place in a camp in a forest.

The monkeys were identified by scientists as gray-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix cinerea), a species native to the provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh, Kon Tum, and Gia Lai.

Listed as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the douc species is mainly threatened by poaching for their meat and traditional medicine purposes.

Hunting, slaughtering, and trading of the animals is prohibited by law.


Bizarre or brutal?

The photos attracted thousands of comments from people expressing shock and anger. Local police were asked to investigate the case.

The Army Corps No.3 found out the men are soldiers in its Regiment No.7, on service in Kon Tum Province.

Online newspaper Dan Tri on Thursday reported that Quang has told investigators he and his colleagues did not directly trap and shoot the langurs.

He said they bought the animals from locals and hired them to slaughter the animals.

During the process, Quang said, he and his teammates tortured the animals and took photos.

The Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh (HCMC Law) newspaper said investigators will summon others involved in the trading of rare primate species.

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