Premchai 'ruse' hopes public forgets

Premchai 'ruse' hopes public forgets

A request by the so-called "dream team" of lawyers representing construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta that his case, which involves the alleged poaching and slaying of an endangered black leopard at a wildlife sanctuary, be transferred to another court is merely a legal ruse, the Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation said on Thursday.

Foundation president Sasin Chalermlarp said it looks like the lawyers, who are also defending Mr Premchai's three alleged hunting accomplices from the trip to Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi in February, are just trying to drag the case out.

"There is no other reason for them to do this," he said.

"We have been expecting a ruling within this year but such a transfer could derail that to 2019, when the public will be more focused on the general election [tentatively slated for February] and no one will care about this case any more."

Mr Premchai, the president of construction giant Italian-Thai Development Plc, and three other suspects in the case petitioned the Kanchanaburi-based Thong Pha Phum court earlier asking that their cases be sent to the 7th Regional Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases based in Samut Songkhram province.

They based their request on the argument that public prosecutors have also filed bribery charges against them in connection with the alleged case of wildlife poaching to that court, and so all the cases should be tried at the same venue.

The Thong Pha Phum court has forwarded their petition to the Appeal Court for a ruling, now expected Aug 27.

Chamnan Sirirak, an independent lawyer, said he believed the cases and number of culprits were sufficiently different in both cases to merit separate trials at different courts.

He said if the Appeal Court agrees to the transfer, the hearing process would likely take longer and could even reset the case completely.

Mr Premchai is currently facing nine charges after several against him were dropped.

The leopard's carcass and those of other animals, some of which were protected species, were found at his camping site.

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