Court Hands Chinese Wildlife Trafficker 32 years Prison term

By Our Reporter and Voa

Magistrate’s Court in the capital, Lilongwe, has sentenced a Chinese national, described by some as one of the biggest African wildlife trafficking kingpins, to 32 years in prison after convicting him on three wildlife crimes. The court, however, said the sentences will run concurrently for 14 years and then there is a plan to deport him. But the convict is looking to appeal the sentence.

Judge Justice Violet Chipao on Tuesday sentenced Lin Yunhua to 14 years in prison for trading in rhino horn, 14 years for possession of rhino horn and an additional six years for money laundering. Justice Chipao however said the sentences will run concurrently, meaning that Lin will serve a total of 14 years.

Lin Yunhua

Lin, a Chinese national and the leader of wildlife trafficking syndicate Lin-Zhang gang — named after the husband-and-wife leaders — has been operating out of Malawi for at least a decade. Malawi’s authorities arrested him in August 2019 following a three-month manhunt.

Prosecution lawyer, Andy Kaonga says Lin would face another punishment after completing the sentence.

“Once he serves the sentence, our colleagues at the DPP [Director of Public Prosecution] office will probably take it to the minister of homeland security and then start the process of his deportation because the court has recommended that he should be deported from the country,” he said.

The sentencing of Lin brings the number of wildlife trafficking syndicate members sent to prison to 14. These include four Malawian and 10 Chinese nationals, including Lin’s wife currently serving an 11-year prison term. Lin’s daughter was also arrested in December 2020 for alleged money laundering offences. Her trial is ongoing.

The court has given the defense 30 days to appeal the sentence.