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Antelope Horn Trial Begins in Beijing

The trial began Tuesday morning of three suspects accused of buying and transporting Saiga antelope horn. The case is being heard at the Fangshan District Court, Beijing.

It is the largest such case ever tried in Beijing, involving 568 horns with a total value of 4.2 million yuan (US$500,000). The Saiga antelope is an endangered species under government protection.

The defendant, surnamed Zhang, is the factory manager of a Hebei-based pharmaceutical company. In early March last year, he assigned subordinates Liu Bin and Wang Zhixue to go to Anguo City in Hebei to ask defendant Meng Xiangli for payment of an overdue debt. After negotiations, Meng and Liu agreed that Meng would use traditional Chinese medicine, including the Saiga antelope horn, as payment. Meng put the horns into his station wagon and drove to Beijing, where he was caught by local police

The public prosecutor says that the pharmaceutical company, in addition to the defendants as individuals, has violated the law.

The maximum penalty for cases of this type includes confinement for not less than ten years, forfeiture of illegal profits and a punitive fine.

(China.org.cn by Tang Fuchun, March 30, 2004)

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