Prosecutors blunder in rush to announce Premchai sentencing

Prosecutors blunder in rush to announce Premchai sentencing

Itthiporn Kaewthip, left, spokesman of the Office of the Attorney General, and deputy spokesman Prayut Phetchakhun. (Photo supplied)
Itthiporn Kaewthip, left, spokesman of the Office of the Attorney General, and deputy spokesman Prayut Phetchakhun. (Photo supplied)

The Office of the Attorney General was in such a hurry to spread the news of tycoon Premchai Karnasuta's sentencing in the "black leopard case", they called a rushed press conference and gave out the wrong information.

The Supreme Court's judgement was read out in the Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court  in Kanchanaburi on Wednesday morning.

The OAG quickly called a press conference in Bangkok to announce the ruling in the sensitive case.

But they got it wrong.

The OAG, through its spokesman Itthiporn Kaewthip and deputy spokesman Prayut Phetchakhun, said Premchai was sentenced to two years and six months for hunting in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary nearly four years ago, his former driver to two years and nine months in prison and his hunter to three years and one month.

The announcement said the Supreme Court reduced the Appeal Court's sentences by eight months because a change to the Wild Animal Preservation and Protection Act two years ago removed " acceptance" of wildlife carcasses as an offence.

The OAG later sent a message to the media correcting the sentences and apologising for the misinformation. It said the amendment to the law had no effect on the prison terms of the three men.

All three were in fact acquitted on the carcass acceptance count but were still found guilty of possessing wildlife carcasses and their jail terms of eight months for this offence remained in force.

Premchai was sentenced to three years and two months, his former driver Yong Dodkruea, 68, to three years and five months in prison and his hunter Thanee Thummat, 59, to three years and nine months.

The wrong sentences, as initially given out by the OAG, were reported by all major news outlets in Thailand, including the Bangkok Post, and overseas agencies including Reuters. The Bangkok Post quickly corrected its story, reporting the the correct prison sentences handed down by the Supreme Court.

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