Premchai tells court he didn't kill black leopard

Premchai tells court he didn't kill black leopard

Mr Premchai Karnasuta arrives at Thong Pha Phum court in Kanchanaburi province on Wednesday. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)
Mr Premchai Karnasuta arrives at Thong Pha Phum court in Kanchanaburi province on Wednesday. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)

KANCHANABURI: Tycoon Premchai Karnasuta and his three camping companions all entered pleas of not guilty in the Thong Pha Phum court on Wednesday to charges of poaching in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The next hearing was set for May 21.

Mr Premchai, Yong Dodkhruea, Nathee Riamsaen and Thanee Thummat reported to the court in Thong Pha Phum district after public prosecutors indicted them at the court on Tuesday.

After a four-hour hearing the deputy prosecutor of Thong Pha Phum, Krisada Chuto, said the four defendants denied all charges after they were read to them. The court then adjourned the case until May 21.

The court released the four on bail and prohibited them from leaving the country without permission. It increased bail for Mr Premchai, Mr Yong and Mr Thanee to 400,000 baht each and maintained bail for Mrs Nathee at 150,000 baht.

Mr Premchai said calmly that he did not feel any pressure. He insisted that he did not shoot the black leopard and he would prove it in court.

He also said he did not expect the case to have any impact on his giant construction company, Italian-Thai Development Plc.

Mr Premchai faces six charges - carrying firearms in public without permission, colluding to hunt wildlife in a wildlife sanctuary without permission, conspiring to hunt protected wildlife without permission, possessing protected wildlife carcasses without permission, concealing wildlife carcasses obtained illegally, and collecting wildlife items in a national forest reserve without permission.

Mr Yong faced the same six charges plus an additional charge of colluding to possess firearms and ammunition without permission.

Mr Thanee faced the same seven charges as Mr Yong plus one more - intent to illegally hunt wildlife in a sanctuary.

Mrs Nathee, who served as cook during the trip, faces similar charges to Mr Yong, with the exception of colluding to illegally hunt wildlife in a wildlife sanctuary and conspiring to hunt protected wildlife.

The 63-year-old construction tycoon and the three others were arrested on the night of Feb 4 for allegedly hunting animals in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a Unesco World Heritage site, in Kanchanaburi province. They were found in possession of the carcasses of protected animals, including a rare black leopard and its pelt. A pot of soup was found to contain meat from the leopard.

Mr Premchai, left, waits on a chair as a wildlife sanctuary official weighs wild game meat found at his camp in Thong Pha Phum district in February. (Photo by the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary)

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