|Vietnamese Nguyen Van Tien (left) pleaded guilty to felling gaharu trees in the Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve in Nibong Tebal, Penang, on New Year’s Day. Pic by Mohd Kamil Rahim (NST)|
BUTTERWORTH: A 23-year-old Vietnamese was sentenced to six years’ jail and fined RM200,000 in default six months’ jail for felling gaharu (agarwood) trees at the Forest Reserve in Nibong Tebal last month – a first in Penang.
Nguyen Van Tien had pleaded guilty to felling the agarwood trees, with two others still at large, at the Bukit Panchor Forest Reserve at 3.30pm on Jan 1.
He was earlier charged under Section 15 (1) of the Forestry Act 1984 together with Section 34 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of RM500,000, or both.
In mitigation, Nguyen asked for leniency, saying that he regretted committing the offence. The court proceedings were adjourned three times before the sentencing.
Deputy public prosecutor Siti Aishah Ramlan pressed for a deterrent sentence, claiming that the accused had destroyed the forest reserve and such incidents were rampant in the state.
She asked the court to impose a sentence that would serve as a lesson to other would-be offenders.
Session court Judge Ikmal Hishan Mohd Tajuddin then passed the sentence and ordered it to take effect from yesterday.
State Forestry Department assistant director Azhar Ahmad said they had to delay charging the accused because they needed to arrange for a Vietnamese interpreter.
He said besides the locals, foreigners were also involved in the illegal felling and stealing of the agarwood trees. - theStarOnline