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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 30) – A Solomons court has fined three foreigners a total of $3,000 after pleading guilty to attempted smuggling of protected birds.

The three Chinese, Xiao Zinjie, Yany Wanping and Lu Fang, are workers on a logging vessel that came to collect logs in the Western Province.

They pleaded guilty to attempted smuggling of Ducorps white cockatoo when they appeared in the Gizo Magistrates Court on Monday.

The three were each fined $1,000 by Principal Magistrate Leonard Maina.

They paid their fines on the same day.

Police prosecutor constable Tovavaki told the court that on 25 August 2006, the Tradeco Boarding agent who travelled on board the log vessel Yang Quan informed the officer in-charge Customs Noro about three birds being caged in the vessel.

He said that between 17 and 24 August while the ship was at Rakata logging camp in Isabel Province collecting round logs, the three crews secretly gave out bottles of whisky to one villager for three Ducorps white cockatoos.

When the vessel came and berth along Noro international wharf on 25 August 2006, the birds flew out from among the logs.

The birds were seen flying out from the log vessel by the boarding agent himself, the stevedores and Noro Ports Authority workers.

Noro police and customs boarded the vessel and searched the ship where they found the tray, which was used to cage the birds.

The tray was taken to police station as an exhibit.

The three men admitted to police when interviewed that they intended to take the birds back to China.

When passing sentence, Magistrate Maina told the accused that it is illegal to export wildlife without government permit.

"Any person found guilty by this court attempting to take or export protected bird species will face heavy penalty," he told the three men.

August 30, 2006

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com

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