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Public cynical about justice for ‘influential’ after Premchai case

Feb 18. 2018
File photo
File photo
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Although the investigation into construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta’s alleged illegal hunting is ongoing, the public has little confidence that he will be punished if found guilty.

File photo:  Premchai Karnasuta

Nearly two-thirds, or 64.2 per cent, of people recently surveyed believe the case, in which Premchai and three others are accused of poaching and possessing wildlife at the Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi, will ultimately not see wrongdoers punished, because the suspects are from an “influential group”.

The survey was recently conducted by the Bangkok University Research Centre among 1,202 respondents nationwide, who were asked for their opinions on justice procedures in Thailand. 

The poll also found that 53.3 per cent of respondents thought the case against Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya – who is wanted over a 2012 hit-and-run incident that left a Bangkok traffic policeman dead – would not see Vorayuth punished.

File photo: Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya

Fifty per cent of respondents also believed the case against Dhammakaya Temple ex-abbot and founder Phra Dhammachayo would also be unable to bring the controversial monk to justice.

File photo: Phra Dhammachayo

About 49 per cent believed no culprit would be punished over the suspicious death of teenage army cadet Pakapong Tanyakan at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School in Nakhon Nayok.

Asked which group of people would likely get away with a crime, 69.2 per cent of the respondents ranked “the group of influential figures”. Also named were politicians (63.6 per cent); “high society” wealthy people (61.5 per cent); civil servants, police and military people (45.2 per cent); and monks (21.1 per cent). 

Over a third of respondents (37.6 per cent) believed the justice system contained loopholes that allowed wrongdoers to evade justice. Another 28.6 per cent thought the practice of “double standards” or discrimination was in play, while 23.6 per cent said they thought available punishments were too lenient compared to the crimes. Just 5.7 per cent believed that legal procedures were carried out justly and transparently, while 4.5 per cent said scapegoats had been used to take the blame for crimes.

Asked if they felt confident in justice procedures, 71.7 per cent said their confidence was low while the rest said confidence remained high.

Meanwhile, Counter Corruption Division deputy commander Pol Colonel Wacharin Pusit said Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary chief Wichian Shinwong and his subordinates would testify before police on February 22 as part of the investigation into Wichian’s complaint over Premchai’s alleged act of attempting to bribe a state official to evade arrest. Wacharin said officers would later summon Premchai to give information over the allegation.

As for four elephant tusks seized from Premchai’s Bangkok house earlier this month, police Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division commander Pol Maj-General Panya Pinsook said they were still waiting for the result of a DNA test by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The tests, due to be completed in three weeks, should be able to confirm whether the tusks were from domesticated elephants, which require a licence to own, or from wild elephants, which cannot be legally owned. Panya also said Premchai should bring documents to explain his ownership of the tusks to police without having to wait for the results to be finalised.

Premchai has denied poaching charges brought against him and three others, following their arrest on February 4 in the wildlife sanctuary’s western area. Rangers searched the camp and found guns and protected wildlife animal carcasses, including that of a black leopard, a Kalij pheasant and a barking deer. 

The suspects have since been granted bail.

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