Animal cruelty charge against Premchai dropped

Animal cruelty charge against Premchai dropped

Premchai Karnasuta is seen at the Thong Pha Phum Court in Kanchanaburi on Feb 6, when he was released on bail after being arrested for poaching. He has since failed to show up for two appointments to be questioned by police. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)
Premchai Karnasuta is seen at the Thong Pha Phum Court in Kanchanaburi on Feb 6, when he was released on bail after being arrested for poaching. He has since failed to show up for two appointments to be questioned by police. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)

A charge of cruelty to animals against construction tycoon and accused poacher Premchai Karnasuta was withdrawn on Friday, but other cases are moving ahead, including a possible new complaint of forest encroachment.

The cruelty charge was dropped a day after the Italian-Thai Development chief failed for a second time to show up for a meeting with police in Kanchanaburi. He was too busy, his lawyer said. He still faces numerous other charges related to the poaching incident that has outraged the public.

Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul, the deputy national police chief, said officials of the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi withdrew their complaint of cruelty to animals against Mr Premchai.

Meanwhile, forestry officials are taking a closer look at a property owned by Mr Premchai in Loei province. Somboon Theerabunditkul, the northeastern forest protection chief of Royal Forest Department, led an inspection of Rungyen Resort in tambon Rong Chik of Phu Rua district on Friday.

He said officials found three plots totalling 258 rai in a forest being used to support the operations of the resort. A reservoir and surrounding road occupied 249 rai, macadamia trees covered six rai, and a three-rai plot accommodated an electricity generator, a cellular tower and a water tank for the resort, Mr Somboon said.

Access to the sites was blocked with checkpoints and locked gates that are now deserted, he added. A forestry official has already filed a complaint of additional forest encroachment.

Mr Somboon said the three new plots were addition to 6,229 rai of forest land illegally used by Rungyen Resort. The resoprt is owned by CPK International Co, of which Mr Premchai is a board member.

The 63-year-old executive and three others were arrested in a no-camping zone at the world heritage Thungyai Naresuan sanctuary in Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi on Feb 4. They were found in possession of the carcasses of nine protected wild animals.

The animals included an endangered black Indochinese leopard, its pelt riddled with bullet holes, a Kalij pheasant and a barking deer. They also had three long-barrelled guns and ammunition.

The four faced nine charges relating to hunting in a wildlife sanctuary and having weapons there. They have all denied the charges.

They were released by a local court on Feb 6 after they posted sureties of 150,000 baht each. They are due to appear in court again on March 26.


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