KANCHANABURI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta to a prison term of three years and two months for hunting in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary nearly four years ago.
The ruling was read out at Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court on Wednesday morning.
Premchai, 66-year-old former president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, arrived at the court with a walking cane and a bandage over his left eye. The two other defendants in the case were also present at the court.
His former driver Yong Dodkruea, 68, was sentenced to three years and five months in prison and his hunter Thanee Thummat, 59, to three years and nine months.
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's jail terms, although the Wild Animal Preservation and Protection Act was amended two years ago to exclude punishment for acceptance of wildlife carcasses.
All three were acquitted on the carcass acceptance count but were still found guilty of possessing wildlife carcasses and their jail terms of eight months in this offence remained in force.
The Supreme Court also upheld the Appeal Court's order that they pay 2 million baht in compensation for damage to nature resulting from their illegal hunting.
The defendants were ordered to be fitted with electronic tags while waiting to be taken to Thong Pha Phum prison. They were also tested for Covid-19.
The Office of the Attorney General initially announced the wrong prison sentences at a press conference shortly after the ruling was read out.
The announcement said the Supreme Court sentenced Premchai Karnasuta to a prison term of two years and six months, his former driver to two years and nine months and his hunter to three years and one month.
The OAG later sent a message to the media correcting the sentences and apologising for the blunder.
The wrong sentences were initially widely reported by news oulets, including the Bangkok Post.
The three defendants, along with a woman cook, were arrested at their camp in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in tambon Chalae of Thong Pha Phum district on Feb 4, 2018, for hunting of wildlife, including killing a rare black panther, a kalij pheasant and a barking deer. They also faced other related charges.
The Appeal Court gave the jail terms to Premchai, Yong and Thanee in December 2019. They appealed to the Supreme Court.
Nathee Riemsaen, the 46-year-old cook, was given a suspended prison term of one year and eight months. She did not appeal the sentence.