Boffs to test Premchai's wife's tusks

Boffs to test Premchai's wife's tusks

The wife of construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta has permitted experts from Mahidol University to examine elephant tusks she was caught in possession of as she, her husband and an associate fight to disprove a charge of possessing them illegally.

Khanitta Karnasuta on Monday gave her consent to the examination at the request of the Criminal Court. However, she insisted the samples taken must not damage the two pairs of ivory tusks, seized from her family by authorities last February.

The tusks are about a metre long each and worth millions of baht.

The 64-year-old had earlier asked the court to have the university veterinarians identify the tusks' origin and age after authorities, citing a genetic testing result, said the tusks had come from an African species, which cannot be registered under Thai law.

Ms Khanitta, Mr Premchai, 64, and Wandee Somphum, 71, pleaded not guilty to illegal possession in May last year after they were accused of smuggling and owning the carcasses of a number protected species without permission.

The trio have been released on bail.

According to police investigators, Ms Khanitta insists the tusks are from domestic elephants and have been in her possession since 1987, and that she and Ms Wandee had reported them to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation in 2015.

The court on Monday set the dates of Aug 8 and 13 for witnesses to testify.

The ivory tusks came to light after authorities searched Mr Premchai's house in Bangkok's Huai Khwang district on Feb 7 last year where they discovered the carcasses along with 43 guns and ammunition.

Their search followed the arrest of Mr Premchai and three other suspects earlier on Feb 4 for allegedly hunting animals in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi.

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