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Premchai hunting case leads to more restrictions in national parks

Feb 11. 2018
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By The Nation

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THE CHIEF OF the National Parks, Wildlife and Plants department has ordered additional restrictions at all national parks connected to Thung Yai Naresuwan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province to prevent poaching and intrusions.

Thanya Netidharmmakul issued the order following the much-discussed case of construction mogul Premchai Karnasuta’s alleged poaching in the wildlife sanctuary, a source said.

The source quoted Thanya’s order as saying the measures are needed because the sanctuary was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site and shared borders with many national parks.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt-General Thitirat Nongharnpitak, the chief of the police Crime Suppression Division (CSD), said the division had already joined the investigation into alleged poaching by Premchai – and was ready to take over the case at the order of the national police chief.

Thitirat said the case was under the jurisdiction of Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum Police Station, while the CSD and the police’s Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division were cooperating in “secret” investigations.

Premchai, the president of Italian-Thai Development, one of the country’s largest construction firms, and his driver, close aide and cook were arrested for poaching in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this month.

Thitirat said the CSD could take over leadership of the investigation if national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda issued such an order. The CSD could handle the job as its duties involved investigating cases nationwide, he added.

The butchered remains of a black leopard, pheasant and barking deer as well as hunting rifles were found at Premchai’s campsite, leading to public outrage directed at a business leader apparently implicated in the illegal hunting of critically endangered species.

The initial police investigation found that Premchai had asked for permission to enter the area, where hunting and camping are banned, but he had not officially received a necessary permit. He was also found at a different site than the one officials had permitted him to visit.

Premchai’s lawyer, Withoon Yaemprai, has told police that his clients denied the charges against him, claiming that the group had got lost and could not return to the original site because night had already fallen.

Wildlife Conversation Bureau director Kanjana Nittaya said she had received a phone call from Noppadon, who claimed Premchai wanted to visit the site to conduct “nature studies”.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Development Administration (Nida)’s poll released yesterday found 68.8 per cent of respondents had no faith in law enforcement being applied fairly to all people.

They believed there were loopholes in the law and that law enforcement officials feared influential people.

 

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