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Foreigner on Trial for Ivory Smuggling
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Hussein Yahya Al-Asri from Yemen went on trial in the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court in south China's Guangdong Province on Monday on charges of smuggling ivory.

Al-Asri, a 27-year-old businessman, was charged after customs discovered 60.73 kilograms valued at 3.5 million yuan (US$0.45 million) in his luggage at the Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou on June 7, 2006.

Al-Asri said he tried to tell customs officials he was carrying the ivory but because he couldn't speak Chinese or English, he couldn't make himself understood and failed to declare the 14 pieces of ivory.

He said the ivory was bought from another businessman in Yemen at a cost of US$30 per kilogram and he intended to sell it in China.

"I really didn't know carrying ivory is illegal in China. Had I known this I would never carried the ivory," said Al-Asri.

A verdict is expected later this year, according to local sources.

China established regulations on the trade of endangered wild fauna and flora last September.

China joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in 1980, but some African and Southeast Asia countries have not.

The regulations require the approval of the Chinese government to export or import wildlife or wildlife products for non-commercial purposes, such as scientific research, breeding or exchanges.

(Xinhua News Agency April 10, 2007)

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