Saturday, May 15, 2021

Botswana, Zambia in diplomatic row over ivory theft suspect

Tension is brewing between Botswana and Zambia over a suspected criminal who is wanted in Botswana for theft three years ago of massive ivory stockpile that was stored at the Department of Wildlife warehouse in Kasane.

Zambian is reported to have arrested the suspect in his home country and released him as the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Information reaching this publication suggests that Botswana is considering sending high rankings government officials to Zambia to find mutual ways on how they can exchange fugitives especially suspects who are targeting wildlife mostly elephants, lions and rhinos.

It is understood that the brewing tension has been triggered by the fact that Botswana is looking for a good number of Zambian suspects who are wanted in the country for a various criminal offences but cannot be extradited as Zambia does not have an extradition agreement with Botswana.

Detective assistant superintendent Ookeditse Moseki from Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Unit at Kasane police station told Sunday Standard that “it is regrettable that till to this date we have not yet made any breakthrough in the case but that does not mean that we have closed the case.”

He explained that sometime in 2012 they investigated a case in which about 26 ivories that were kept at one of the wildlife warehouses in Kasane were stolen.

After it was discovered that the warehouse was allegedly broken into, police launched the investigations and a number of people were questioned in connection with the incident but no suspects were arrested locally.

Moseki said a few months later after the break-in, a Zambian suspect was arrested in Zambia in-possession of ivory marked BWK’, meaning Botswana Wildlife Kasane.

He expressed concern that Botswana does not have an extradition treaty with Zambia but “Botswana is trying to find bilateral means through Interpol which may somehow be used to extradite one of the suspects who was arrested in Zambia.”

“I think the public should understand that extradition alone is a process and it takes time therefore we are hopeful that one of the good days that suspect will be brought to Botswana to stand trial” he said. Efforts to contact the Zambian High Commission were futile.

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