By The Nation
A veteran ranger in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary’s Maharat base first encountered the alleged poaching in which Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Karnasuta is implicated on the way from his base to the Thung Yai office. He then reported it to his chief, Wichian Shinwong.
According to a source close to the incident, the ranger found a man fishing near his base, which is almost inaccessible as it is located deep in the sanctuary and not open to visitors.
When Wichian received the report, he ordered his deputy to check the area. The deputy encountered another a man carrying a gun, pointing it in different directions, as he travelled along the dirt road near the base.
When the deputy returned to base, he reported the incident to his chief. With no hesitation, Wichian ordered a patrol of 20 subordinates to the area, where a group of visitors, including Premchai, had been allowed to enter the sanctuary and camp.
The wildlife rangers caught up with the group and conducted a search, finding gruesome evidence of the killing of endangered species, including a black leopard.
The source said on Saturday there had been some communication between the chief and “people on the other end of the line”. He was asked to take care of the group as they were the guests of “Phu Yai”, which means important persons.
One “Phu Yai” is the director of a bureau at the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, while another was a former director at the same bureau. The latter is close to Premchai as he acts as a consultant to his company, the source said.
The group was therefore allowed to go where they requested. They camped on the way to Maha Rat base, but nobody knew that they would kill the animals.
The source said Premchai at first denied the charges and refused to sign the arrest record prepared by the Thung Yai office. The document is normally submitted to the police as part of a complaint.
The source said Premchai possibly would deny the charges by saying he was not the person who shot the animals.