Dar es Salaam: Three arrested in connection with Zurich ivory bust

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Even though officially Tanzania missed the opportunity to make a grand event out of World Elephant Day yesterday, probably cognizant of the fact that the country’s past poaching record would earn th

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Even though officially Tanzania missed the opportunity to make a grand event out of World Elephant Day yesterday, probably cognizant of the fact that the country’s past poaching record would earn them scorn and an acid critique above all, police investigators were busy arresting three suspects connected with a recent blood ivory bust in Zurich.

Some Chinese, in transit enroute home, were found to have nearly a quarter of a ton of blood ivory in their suitcases when passing through Zurich. They were subsequently detained on July 6 but later released after paying a fine. It is understood that they are now facing criminal prosecution in China after their return home.

It was immediately suggested here that shipping eight suitcases stuffed with blood ivory could not have been accomplished without the help of local airport and security officials, and the arrests seem to confirm that statement made at the time when the Zurich incident unfolded.

CCTV footage was reportedly retrieved from one of the culprits who had apparently removed the main DVD from the recording device. However, after securing the footage from system back-up files, hard evidence was obtained of the bags being escorted before loaded on to the Swiss flight. The footage put at least two security men into the frame who were, together with a senior manager of Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport, arrested yesterday.

The opposition candidate for the presidency during the forthcoming general and presidential elections, Mr. Edward Lowassa, accused the outgoing government of having facilitated the, as he put it, “unrestrained blunder of natural resources,” specifically mentioning the industrial scale poaching spree of the past few years. It appears that Lowassa will make this, among other major scandals under the Kikwete presidency, one of his campaign topics, when the formal pre-election period kicks off on August 22. The public turnout when Lowassa picked his nomination papers earlier in the week, showed massive public support for him as tens of thousands lined the streets and followed his car convoy and has CCM, aka Chama Cha Mapinduzi cadres and big wigs seriously worried that their days in government may be numbered.

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