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  1. ITV Report

Nine charged with murdering British helicopter pilot in Tanzania

By Dan Ashby

Nine men in Tanzania have been charged with murdering the British helicopter pilot Roger Gower near the Serengeti.

Investigators say the men are part of a gang who have made a career out of killing elephants.

Njile Gunga, in the centre wearing the purple shirt, is suspected of firing the bullet that killed Mr Gower Credit: ITV News

Police suspect Njile Gunga, 28, of firing the fatal shot that brought down Mr Gower's helicopter.

It is alleged he fired a bullet through the under carriage of the helicopter, bringing it crashing down.

He is also accused of making a career out of killing elephants, and working with other poachers to sell to bigger gangs.

Roger Gower was killed last month Credit: Tropic Air Kenya

Roger Gower was tracking the alleged poachers and feeding information back to rangers on the ground, at the time he was shot down.

The Chief Prosecutor in the case told ITV News that police were testing whether DNA found on tusks seized from the scene, matched those of elephants corpses nearby.

The nine men charged with Mr Gower's murder appeared in court Credit: ITV News

Njile Gunga was not the only man charged with murder. The Bariadi Court also charged Shija Mjika, 38, Dotto Pangali, 42, Moses Mandago, 28, Iddi Abdullah,50, Dotto Huya, 44, Mwigulu Kanga, 40, Mapolu Gabida, 50 and Mange Buluma, 47.

The men were also charged with being in possession of $15,000 worth of ivory.

Prosecutors say that the men were an experienced poaching gang, with known insiders such as Iddi Abdullah, who had worked for the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority.

Fifteensoldiers armed with rifles surrounded the small court as proceedings began, asign of how seriously Tanzania takes the threat of those allegedly involved inpoaching gangs. Prosecutors also asked not to be filmed or photographed toprotect their identity.

The men will enter their plea when the case is heard in a high court in March.