Warrant threat for Premchai if he skips court

Warrant threat for Premchai if he skips court

Leopard bones, tusks key to poaching case

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has taken samples from the four elephant tusks seized at the home of accused wildlife poacher Premchai Karnasuta (inset) to check the DNA against databases of illegal ivory from Africa. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has taken samples from the four elephant tusks seized at the home of accused wildlife poacher Premchai Karnasuta (inset) to check the DNA against databases of illegal ivory from Africa. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Police will seek a warrant for the arrest of Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD), if he fails to report to the Thong Pha Phum Court in Kanchanaburi on March 26, deputy national police chief Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul said.

If he fails to appear, a bail bond of 150,000 baht will also be seized, Pol Gen Srivara said.

He added that immigration checkpoints nationwide have been instructed to keep an eye out for Mr Premchai to prevent any possible escape.

Mr Premchai faces multiple charges relating to the hunting of protected wildlife and firearms possession in the Western Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province where he was arrested on the night of Feb 4, along with three others.

The carcasses of 10 protected wild animals as well as three long-barrelled weapons and ammunition were found near his illegal camping ground, including that of a skinned, endangered black leopard with multiple bullet holes in its pelt.

The four have been granted bail with a bond of 150,000 baht each. They denied the charges.

Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, head of the the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation's special taskforce centre on forest protection, known as the Phraya Suea unit, said his team on Thursday handed evidence relating to Mr Premchai's wildlife hunting case to Thong Pha Phum police.

The evidence includes two bones believed to be those of a missing right leg of the leopard carcass seized for inspection. The bones were found in a creek near an area at where Mr Premchai and the other suspects were found camping on the night before they were detained, Mr Chaiwat said.

Mr Chaiwat said the two bones are likely to be key pieces of evidence to prove that Mr Premchai and the other suspects had removed the bones when they slaughtered the leopard to prepare its meat for cooking.

Wildlife officials on Thursday also collected samples from the elephant tusks seized from Mr Premchai's Bangkok home and said they should know in three weeks if they were illegally acquired from Africa.

Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) officers took the samples from two large pairs of tusks now being held at the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division in Bangkok.

The ivory was impounded from the house of Mr Premchai in Huai Khwang district on Feb 7.

DNP deputy director-general Pinsak Suraswadi said the place of origin of the elephant tusks wasn't hard to guess. Tusks that big normally belong to African elephants.

Mr Pinsak said an examination of the DNA of the samples would confirm where the ivory came from. The results should be known in three weeks.

The possession of an African elephant tusk is illegal because it violates the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and means it must have been smuggled. The offence carries a maximum jail term of four years and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.

If the tusks are proved to be from Asian elephants, officials will check if their possession was legal, he said. Mr Premchai had earlier applied for permission to keep elephant tusks in his possession, but a permit had not been issued.

Wildlife officials estimated the value of both pairs of tusks from Mr Premchai's house at more than 2 million baht.


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