In­ves­ti­ga­tors close in on Prem­chai hunt case

Two pel­lets tipped to be solid ev­i­dence


In­ves­ti­ga­tors prob­ing the wildlife poach­ing case in­volv­ing four sus­pects in­clud­ing Prem­chai Kar­na­suta, pres­i­dent of Ital­ian-Thai De­vel­op­ment Plc (ITD), are now fo­cus­ing on two pel­lets found in the car­cass of a Kalij pheas­ant (Lo­phura leu­come­lanos) seized for in­spec­tion in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The pheas­ant’s car­cass was among a to­tal of 10 dead wild an­i­mals seized for in­spec­tion in re­la­tion to the il­le­gal hunt­ing case.

Thong Pha Phum district po­lice and the Thungyai Nare­suan Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary in Kan­chanaburi took the an­i­mals to be X-rayed at a state-run hos­pi­tal on Wed­nes­day.

Mr Prem­chai, 63, was ar­rested and later re­leased on bail for al­legedly hunt­ing wildlife in Thungyai Nare­suan Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary on Feb 4. Thong Pha Phum po­lice have pressed mul­ti­ple charges in­clud­ing poach­ing against Mr Prem­chai and three other mem­bers of his party. All de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Af­ter X-rays showed two pel­lets in the pheas­ant car­cass, in­ves­ti­ga­tors plan to have them re­moved so they can be used to com­pare with weapons seized from the sus­pects, Pol Col Wut­thiphong Yen­chit, chief of the Thong Pha Phum po­lice sta­tion said. If the pel­lets match the seized guns, po­lice will have solid ev­i­dence to prove the sus­pects had il­le­gally killed the pro­tected an­i­mal, he said, adding it ap­peared the am­mu­ni­tion came from a shot­gun.

Mean­while, Chai­wat Lim­likit-ak­sorn, head of the the Depart­ment of Na­tional Parks, Wildlife and Plant Con­ser­va­tion’s spe­cial task­force cen­tre on for­est pro­tec­tion, known as the Phraya Suea unit, said his team found and re­trieved two bones be­lieved to be those of a miss­ing right leg of the black leop­ard car­cass seized for in­spec­tion.

The bones were found in a creek near an area at where Mr Prem­chai and the other sus­pects were found camp­ing on the night be­fore they were de­tained, Mr Chai­wat said.

Mr Chai­wat said the two bones are likely to be key pieces of ev­i­dence to prove that Mr Prem­chai and the other sus­pects had re­moved the bones when they slaugh­tered the black leop­ard to pre­pare its meat for cook­ing.

If a DNA test later con­firms the bones be­long to the seized black leop­ard car­cass, po­lice will have more solid ev­i­dence to prove the sus­pects’ guilt, Mr Chai­wat said.

He said his team was in­spect­ing some pic­tures of a male black leop­ard cap­tured on Dec 23, 2016 on a cam­era in­stalled about 100 me­tres from where the sus­pects were based. The black leop­ard cap­tured in the footage is be­lieved to be the same one killed by the sus­pects, he said.

Counter-Cor­rup­tion Di­vi­sion (CCD) com­man­der Kamol Rian­racha, mean­while said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are com­pil­ing ev­i­dence to sup­port their re­quest to is­sue a sum­mons for Mr Prem­chai to an­swer a bribery charge, the 11th charge to be pressed against him in the case, as the po­lice probe con­tin­ues to widen. The probe into Mr Prem­chai’s al­leged act of brib­ing a state of­fi­cial wouldn’t take long be­cause the case wasn’t com­pli­cated, Pol Maj Gen Kamol said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors had ques­tioned those who had brought the bribery al­le­ga­tion against Mr Prem­chai, in­clud­ing Wichien Chin­na­wong, head of the Thungyai Nar­ea­suan wildlife sanc­tu­ary’s west­ern side.

Mean­while, Pich­nat Ph­laid­uang, pres­i­dent of a net­work of nat­u­ral re­sources and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion vol­un­teers in 77 prov­inces, yes­ter­day sub­mit­ted a pe­ti­tion to the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly (NLA) call­ing for tough le­gal ac­tion against those sus­pects in Mr Prem­chai’s wildlife hunt­ing case.

Hos­pi­tal staff scan a leop­ard skin while they in­spect car­casses of wild an­i­mals seized in the poach­ing case in­volv­ing Prem­chai Kar­na­suta.

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