PUTRAJAYA, Feb 22 — Anson Wong Keng Liang is a free man today after the Court of Appeal here allowed his appeal to reduce the jail sentence handed down to him for illegally exporting boa constrictor snakes without a permit, Bernama Online reported today.
The news portal also reported that Justice Datuk Wira Low Hop Bing, chairing a three-member panel, reduced the wildlife trader’s jail term from five years to 17-and-a-half months.
The panel held that the revised jail term, which Wong served from September 7, 2010 until today, would serve the interests of justice.
The court allowed Wong’s appeal to set aside a Shah Alam High Court decision to increase his jail term from six months, as imposed by the Magistrate’s Court, to five years.
Justice Low said when increasing his jail term, the High Court had erroneously put certain facts under consideration such as the alleged torture endured by 95 boa constrictors after they were placed a small bag together.
He said the High Court judge had also erroneously considered two venomous rhinoceros viper snakes, which were found in Wong’s bag but not stated in the charge against him as well as the allegation he was keen on profiting from his venture.
Bernama reported Low as saying the charge against Wong was one of exporting the boa constrictors without a permit. As a result, all other considerations fall outside the ambit of the charge which warranted the Court of Appeal’s intervention.
He also said the High Court did not make any reference to Wong’s guilty plea.
The panel also affirmed the High Court’s decision in setting aside the RM190,000 fine imposed on Wong by the Sepang Sessions Court as it exceeds the maximum RM10,000 fine which the Sessions Court can legally impose.
In January, the 53-year-old trader obtained leave from the Court of Appeal to appeal against the decision of the High Court in November 2011 which had increased his jail term from six months to five years.
In September 2011, the Sepang Magistrate’s Court sentenced Wong to six months’ jail and fined him RM190,000 after he pleaded guilty to illegally exporting the endangered species without a permit at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang at 8.50pm on August 26, 2011.
Wong was in KLIA on transit from Penang to Jakarta when the snakes were found in his suitcase.
The High Court imposed the five-year jail term on Wong after allowing the prosecution’s appeal for a heavier sentence. The court, however, set aside the RM190,000 fine.