Notorious Chinese wildlife criminal appeals against his 14 years sentence

Yunhua Lin, a Chinese national who was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for wildlife crimes by a lower Malawian court, has appealed against his sentence in the High Court of Malawi, a month after Chief Resident Magistrate Violet Chipao passed the sentence in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.

Chipao convicted and sentenced Lin for possession and trafficking of pieces of rhino horn worth millions of Malawian kwacha.

The court also sentenced him for money laundering in relation to the same pieces of rhino horn.

Yunhua Lin appeals sentence

Lin was handed 14 years for possessing rhino horn, 14 years for rhino horn trafficking and six years for money laundering.

But the judgement stated that “the sentences must run concurrently from Lin’s arrest in August 2019”; hence, the Chinese national is serving 14 years in prison.

The judgement further recommended that Lin be deported back to China immediately after serving his jail term in Malawi.

But the Chinese national has appealed against his sentence.

A notice from CRM to the parties involved in the case, dated 26 October, 2021, which Nyasa Times has seen, reads in part:

“Take notice that Lin Yunhua being dissatisfied with the judgement of the Chief Resident Magistrate on sentence pronounced at Lilongwe, dated the 28th of September, 2021 appeals to the High Court of Malawi against the sentence as set out in the grounds of appeal”.

Lin was arrested in August 2019 alongside a Malawian National, James Mkwezelemba, after a three month manhunt by the authorities.

He was found with horns of five rhinos from Malawian protected forest reserves. The horns were chopped into 103 pieces.

Lin is a member of one of Southern Africa’s most prolific wildlife trafficking syndicates, which has been operating out of Malawi for at least a decade.

The CRM’s judgement last month observed that “the crimes committed by Lin and other members of the syndicate damage Malawi’s global reputation, economy and tourism sector and lead to the extinction of the country’s endangered, protected and listed wildlife species”.

So far, 13 other members of the syndicate (9 Chinese and 4 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, or elephant ivory.

For instance, Lin’s wife, Mrs Zhang, is one of the convicts in question, and is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence.

And Lin Hui Xin – the daughter of Mr Lin and Mrs Zhang, and also married to a Mr Li Hao Yaun who is also serving 11 years for syndicate-related crimes–was arrested in December 2020 for alleged money laundering offences. Her trial is ongoing.

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