Premchai gets another 6 months in jail

Premchai gets another 6 months in jail

The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced construction billionaire Premchai Karnasuta to six months in prison after finding him guilty of illegally possessing firearms.

The 64-year-old president of Italian-Thai Development Plc immediately applied for bail, pending an appeal, which the court set at 200,000 baht.

The verdict followed his previous convictions earlier this year for poaching and bribery, for which he was handed a combined prison term of two years and four months. These convictions are also being appealed.

In the firearms case, prosecutors told the court that police found three unlicensed rifles in a search of Mr Premchai's residence in Bangkok's Huai Khwang district on Feb 7 last year.

On May 1 last year he denied the firearms charge, but last month changed his plea.

Given the confession, the court commuted his jail term from one year to six months.

Before yesterday's ruling, Mr Premchai -- who was present in court for the sentencing -- proposed to enter the monkhood for 15 days, donate three million baht to charity and stay away from guns for the rest of his life in exchange for a lighter punishment or a suspended sentence.

The court reportedly told him he was free to carry out the acts of contrition he had pledged, but they could not influence sentencing because he had already been convicted in the two other cases by the Thong Pha Phum Court and the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Case Region VII.

The convictions came after he and three others were arrested at an unauthorised camp in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi on Feb 4 last year.

They were found in possession of firearms and the carcasses of protected animals, including a rare black leopard. The bribery charge and conviction stemmed from the tycoon trying to tempt officials into not pressing charges.

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