Man jailed three months for smuggling birds in cruel manner

SINGAPORE -A Singaporean who smuggled 12 birds from Vietnam and confined them in PVC cylindrical and rectangular tubes was jailed for three months on Wednesday.

Herman Rahmat, 38, pleaded guilty to importing nine white-rumped shama, two red-whiskered bulbul and a magpie robin without a licence as well as permitting them to be confined in such a manner or position as to subject them to unnecessary pain or suffering last Nov 2.

The 12 birds were found alive and sent for quarantine on Nov 3. But eight died within the next two days from cranial trauma with accompanying haemorrhage, swelling and dehydration.

The court heard that Herman's offences came to light when an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer noticed tube-like images while screening baggages at Terminal 3, Changi Airport, that day.

Subsequently, 12 live birds were found inside PVC tubes in his baggage.

Herman, who had just arrived from Ho Chi Minh City on a Singapore Airlines flight, admitted that the birds were his. He had bought them in Ho Chi Minh City on Oct 31 and Nov 1 for a total of US$1,520.

The court heard that after the birds were delivered to his hotel room on Nov 2, he hid them in the PVC tubes with perforated holes, and placed them in his luggage bag. He left for Singapore that evening.

Herman admitted that he did it due to financial difficulties. He also told authorities he knew the birds were transported in a very unpleasant manner which caused them unnecessary pain and suffering. There was hardly any space for the birds to move in the PVC tubes.

Pressing for a stiff sentence, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said the importation of birds in such manner constitutes a danger to the public as bird flu may inadvertently be brought into the country. These acts, he said, are hard to detect, and what Herman did was cruel and reckless.

Herman could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months on each charge.