The Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate’s Court will on September 27 deliver a sentence on Chinese national Yun Hua Lin, who was convicted for wildlife offences in June this year.
Yun is considered a mastermind of one of southern Africa’s most prolific wildlife trafficking syndicates.
He is believed to the head of the ‘Lin-Zhang gang’ which has been operating in and out of Malawi for past 10 years, the court heard during his trial.
He was arrested in August 2019 alongside Malawian National James Mkwezelemba after a 3-month manhunt by the authorities and was already convicted by the same court.
Sitting as chief resident magistrate, Judge Violet Chipao on Monday granted an application by the State seeking for time to file comprehensive submissions to justify factors for a stiffer sentence.
She said: “The State is hereby granted two weeks. The submissions should be made available to this Court on 13 September 2021 and sentence will take place on 27 September 2021.”
So far, 13 others—nine Chinese and four Malawian nationals— have received prison sentences on a variety of offences related to the possession of firearms and protected or listed species, including pangolin, rhino horn, hippo teeth and elephant ivory.
Yun’s wife, Zhang, is one of the convicts is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence.
While Lin Hui Xin, the daughter of Lin and Zhang, and another Li Hao Yaun, is also serving 11 years for syndicate-related crimes—and was arrested in December 2020 for alleged money laundering offences.
The sentencing of Yun will be pivotal to Malawi’s story in its ability to bring high-level wildlife criminals to justice. Records from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife show that since 2018 to date, 194 people have been arrested and convicted for wildlife crimes.