Sunday, August 25, 2019

Prosecutors seek tougher sentences in tycoon’s leopard poaching case

Mar 20. 2019
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By The Nation

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Prosecutors would submit a request to see the details of the ruling on the black leopard poaching case involving construction tycoon Premchai Karnnasuta of Italian-Thai Development Plc.

Kosolwat Inthuchanyong of the Office of the Attorney-General said a panel set up to follow up the case would make a request to the court and review yesterday’s ruling to see whether there were any grounds to appeal against the decision, especially on the charge of joint poaching against Premchai.

The legal process is under the office’s authority as the public prosecutor acted as the plaintiff in the case.

The prosecutors filed six charges against Premchai, including joint poaching. The court ruled that he had only acted in a supporting role and was sentenced to two-thirds of the penalty or eight months.

Premchai was also charged with carrying weapons in public without permission and possessing wild animal carcasses without permission, which involved a pheasant found at Premchai’s camp. But the court dismissed the charge over a part of the black leopard found skinned to the bone with some flesh from its tail in a soup pot near the camp.

Altogether, Premchai was sentenced to 16 months in jail before being released on bail.

Premchai along with three other companions were apprehended in Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary in early February last year by Thung Yai chief Wichien Chinwong and his staff at their campsite in a prohibited zone. 

Rifles, shotguns and other weapons, ammunition, cooking equipment and the carcasses of wild animals, including a skinned black leopard, was found after the search.

Kosolwat said it would be hard to file new evidence in an appeal, but the prosecutors would review points made in the ruling, which he said were still valid grounds for an appeal.

As there were no witnesses in the incident, the prosecutors relied on evidence, including that from wildlife forensics and additional plaintiff witnesses’ testimonies.

“We will examine all testimonies as well as the reasons why the court ruled the way it did and then see points to believe that they acted before deciding whether to move ahead with an appeal. I cannot confirm what the prosecutors will decide, but this should be made within 30 days or a further few requests for a postponement if necessary,” said Kosolwat.

Kosolwat said the court’s ruling on Premchai had shown that crimes had been committed and penalties were launched against the wrongdoer.

Wichian said the ruling proved no one was above the law and jail is not just for the poor, as was always believed in Thai society.

He and his chiefs at the National Parks Department had agreed that the ruling should be appealed.

Sasin questioned the court’s ruling that the charge of possessing a black leopard carcass against Premchai was dismissed.

It is seen as likely that the defendant will fight at the Appeals and Supreme Court for a suspension, although Premchai had already said sorry to the public after the ruling. 

He urged Premchai to drop any thoughts of an appeal and work to set ethical standards in wildlife cases.

The investigation which has embraced wildlife forensics should be further cemented to set a new work standard to ensure justice for other future cases, Sasin said.

 

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