By AATAI JOHN
A HIGH Court judge has ordered beche-de-mers police seized during raids of three Honiara establishments recently to be returned to their owners.
The order came after three Chinese owners of the establishments hired Honiara law firm Sol-Law to ask the court to return their seized products, which the court granted.
The Solomon Star was at the Central Police station yesterday when workers of the Chinese businessmen started loading the bags into pick-up trucks.
The products were alleged to be illegally harvested during the closed beche-de-mer season.
Establishments police raided on 19 October were Frank Sheng Song at St. Nicholas area, Zhang Tongzi and Chen Zheng at Ranadi, Xu Kiang at Ngossi ridge.
These three same Chinese were awarded licences to export beche-de-mer by Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).
A police officer in charge told the Solomon Star yesterday they cannot do anything to delay or stop the beche-de-mer owners reclaiming their products from the Central Police station.
The officer said the MFMR and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office failed to sort out this matter before the seized products could be properly released.
“Both the DPP and Fisheries are busy arguing through the exchange of emails without making any effort to properly calculate and weigh the amount of confiscated beche-de-mers, before it returning them to their owners,” the officer said.
He said since the High Court Order to release the sea cucumber is now presented before his office, they have to follow it according to what the law says.
He explained the court order issued by Justice John Brown only allowed the release of the beche-de-mers to their owners, but not for them to export until the case of illegal harvesting is determined in court.
· Court orders seized beche-de-mers to be released to claimants
· Claimants shall be entitled to process the said sea cucumber and prepare the same for export
· But claimants shall not be permitted to export the said sea cucumber save by the further order of the court
By AATAI JOHN