By The Nation
Mahildol University’s Veterinary Faculty has been ordered to check whether the two sets of tusks were from domestic elephants and determine their age.
Public prosecutors have charged Premchai, his wife Kanita, 64, and her aide Wandee Sompoom, 71, with unauthorised possession of protected-wildlife carcasses, smuggling and concealment of smuggled objects. The defendants have denied all charges and were bailed for Bt300,000.
The prosecutors suspected that the tusks were from domestic elephants, while Kanitha claimed that they were from Africa and were inherited from her late mother 30 years ago.
The defendants were at Court yesterday.
Kanita’s lawyer asked the Court to test whether the tusks were from Thai elephants and their ages.
The defendant was ordered to pay Bt5,000 for the testing fee.
The confiscation of the tusks resulted from an expansion of the initial investigation after the arrest of Premchai, along with his close aides and cook, in early February for allegedly poaching in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province.
At his campsite, officials found carcasses of protected animals including a black leopard. The arrest caught the country’s attention, partly due to Premchai’s social status and his company’s series of government contracts. Commentators wondered whether the billionaire with close connections to influential people would be convicted and punished.