Police hand Premchai poaching case to prosecutors

From left, Premchai Karnasuta, Nathee Riamsaen, Yong Dodkrua and Thanee Thummat are arrested at their campsite in the world heritage Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province on the night of Feb 4. (Photo supplied by sanctuary officials)

Police on Tuesday recommended public prosecutors arraign construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta and three others each on nine charges for alleged hunting in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province early last month.

Trumph Jalichandra, deputy spokesman for the attorney-general, said deputy national police chief Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul handed the police investigation report in the case to Somsri Watanapaisal, chief of  State Attorney Region 7, and Thanong Tapha, the Thong Pha Phum prosecutor.

Wichien Chinawong, chief of the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, had asked police to file 10 charges against Mr Premchai, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, Yong Dodkrua, Nathee Riamsaen and Thanee Thummat.

The charges were:

1. unauthorised hunting of wildlife in a wildlife sanctuary

2. unauthorised hunting of protected animals in a wildlife sanctuary

3. attempting to hunt wildlife in a wildlife sanctuary without authorisation

4. possessing the carcasses of protected animals without authorisation

5. hiding illegally acquired wildlife carcasses

6. bringing hunting tools into a wildlife sanctuary without permission

7. entering a wildlife sanctuary without permission

8. collecting forest items in a forest reserve without permission

9. possessing firearms and ammunition without permission and carrying firearms in public places without permission and without good cause

10.cruelty to animals without good cause

Police have pressed the first nine counts against the four suspects, who denied all charges. Police dropped the 10th charge.

For Mr Premchai, police have recommended prosecution on charges 1-8, and only part of the 9th charge of carrying firearms in a public place without permission and without good cause because he had licences to possess the weapons seized from him when he was arrested in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Thong Pha Phum district, Kanchanaburi, on the night of Feb 4.

Police have recommended full prosecution on all nine counts for the other three suspects.

The charges concerning park entry and hunting tools are petty and carry no penalties.  The other offences are liable to different degrees of imprisonment and fines, with the harshest being up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 200,000 baht for the illegal collection of forest items.

Mrs Somsri, chief of State Attorney Region 7, has formed a panel to consider the merits of the case. It is headed by Somjet Amnuaysawat, criminal case prosecutor at the regional office, with the other members being Mr Thanong, the Thong Pha Phum prosecutor, Pol Lt Col Amnat Sucharitchai, deputy attorney of Kanchanaburi, and Krisada Chuto, deputy attorney of Thong Pha Phum.

Police did not take the suspects, who are free on bail, to the public prosecutors office on Tuesday when they handed over the case.

The 63-year-old construction tycoon and three companions were arrested in a no-camping zone inside the world heritage-rated Thungyai Naresuan sanctuary. They were found in possession of the butchered  carcasses of nine protected wild animals.

The dead animals included an endangered black Indochinese leopard, its pelt riddled with bullet holes, and what were initially said to be a Kalij pheasant and protected barking deer, but later identified forensically as a silver pheasant and a wild boar. Meat and bones from the leopard was found in a stew pot at the campsite. They also had three long-barrelled guns, including a shotgun, and ammunition.

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