Wildlife smuggler Ian Baker arrested in Athens

Kathmandu, July 26

Ian Baker, a notorious wildlife smuggler who was convicted of wildlife crime in Nepal, was recently arrested by Interpol in Athens at the behest of Nepal.

Interpol Section In-charge of Nepal Police Kiran Bajracharya told THT that Baker was in the custody of Greek police. “But we don’t know how, when or whether he will be handed over to Nepal. It depends on mutual legal understanding between the two countries,” added Bajracharya.

Interpol had issued a notice in the name of Ian Baker on 3 April 2015 on recommendations made by the National Central Bureau of Interpol. In May 2008, Baker was arrested for illegally possessing a wild animal’s skin, head, bones and other parts in Baluwatar, Kathmandu.

According to Department of National Park and Wildlife Act (fifth amendment), those convicted of dealing in parts of protected endangered wildlife species can be fined Rs 5 to 10 lakh or sentenced to 15 years in jail or both.

Baker had pleaded innocent after his rented house was raided in 2008. Baker claimed that he had no intention of doing business with the objects that the police had seized from his rented flat. He had claimed that he only wanted to put them on display in a resort portraying Nepali traditions.

The Oxford graduate, who was also a famous writer, had claimed he acquired the animal skin from an old Rana palace where he lived in 1984. He claimed that his landlord had asked him to keep the skin, as he no longer wanted it, when he moved to a larger apartment.

Baker also questioned the way the police raided his flat and said the search without a warrant would be considered illegal in many other countries. He said he had bought old Tibetan boxes and tribal artefacts from shops in Durbar Marg and Thamel. The irony, Baker said, was that almost all other objects that the police confiscated, including those in his puja room, could be bought at shops in Thamel, Bouddha, Patan, and Durbar Marg.

He had also claimed that he was an advocate of wildlife and the Himalayan environment conservation and was prompted in part by his uncle who was both an ambassador-at-large and president of WWF to visit Nepal for the first time in 1977.