By SUPOT KAEWKASEE
POLICE YESTERDAY submitted two thick files of investigation documents to provincial public prosecutors to support their allegations on nine poaching-related offences against the president of the Italian-Thai Development (ITD) construction firm and his aides.
Deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibhramanakul, as chief investigator, travelled to Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum district to hand over the files.
Police allege ITD president Premchai Karnasuta, Yong Dotekreau, Natee Riemsaen and Thanee Thummart, violated wildlife Acts on nine counts involving poaching, having in their possession weapons without permits and the remains of protected animals.
The alleged poaching took place between February 4-6 in Thung Yai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary. The four suspects have been informed of the charges, which they denied.
Somsri Wattanapaisarn, director-general of the provincial public prosecutor’s department, said that they were aware that the case has attracted public attention as it involved a well-known person and protected animals. Therefore, they would handle the case carefully and with transparency.
Premchai and the three other suspects were freed on bail after being arrested in early February. He travelled to Bangladesh last weekend on his private jet.
He is scheduled to meet Natural Resources and Environmental Crime (NREC) police today at 10am to acknowledge additional charges of possessing without permits two pairs of tusks and illegal guns that were confiscated from his house in Bangkok.
NREC commander Pol Maj-General Panya Pinsuk held a meeting yesterday with his officers to prepare for today’s meeting with Premchai.
It was expected that Premchai’s wife Kanitta may also show up. The tusks that were registered as being from Thai elephants but turned out to be from African elephants, were registered under her name.
It was not clear whether anti-corruption police, who are investigating alleged attempted bribery by Premchai, will join the NREC officers.
Premchai’s lawyer on Monday requested a postponement of today’s meeting with police to acknowledge the charges.
Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha, chief of the Counter Corruption Division, said the lawyer gave no reason for the postponement and did not suggest a new appointment date.
Police denied the request, however, insisting that Premchai and the other suspects had to show up.
The findings of a butchered black leopard and |other protected animals in Premchai’s campsite |has upset and angered the public partly because Premchai, a billionaire and educated man, allegedly poached in the wildlife sanctuary despite the fact he knew about the laws.
His company, ITD, that has had several contracts with the government, has a clear policy to protect the environment, the forests and wildlife.
Several civilian networks and others have called for police to investigate the case with fairness and transparency out of fear that he could evade prosecution.