Friday 20 April 2018

Thai construction magnate arrested for hunting in wildlife sanctuary

Premchai Karnasuta is one of Thailand’s most prominent businessmen.

Premchai Karnasuta, 63, left, is seen with others in his group after their arrest (AP)
Premchai Karnasuta, 63, left, is seen with others in his group after their arrest (AP)

By Kaweewit Kaewjinda

The head of one of Thailand’s largest construction companies has been arrested for hunting protected animals in a wildlife sanctuary.

Premchai Karnasuta was found with the skin of a black panther and other animals when he was arrested on Sunday, officials announced.

Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said Premchai and three others were detained after park officials were informed they had set up camp in a restricted wildlife sanctuary on the western border.

The Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary is listed as a World Heritage Site by the UN cultural agency Unesco owing to its diversity of fauna and flora.

Premchai, 63, is president of Italian-Thai Development and one of the country’s most prominent businessmen.

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Officials measure the pelt of a black panther found in the possession of one of Thailand's biggest property magnates in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary (AP)

National park rangers said they found guns and the carcasses of a black panther, a Kalij pheasant and a barking deer in the party’s possession. The rangers filed charges of hunting protected animals and violating gun laws.

Premchai, who is being detained in the western province of Kanchanaburi, denies the charges.

A joint statement by the conservation groups Freeland, Green World Foundation, LoveWildlife, Traffic, WildAid and World Wildlife Foundation said: “This is Thailand’s natural heritage, and no-one, whoever they are, has the right to plunder it and consider themselves above the law.”

It is not unusual for the rich and well-connected in Thailand to escape justice.

Press Association

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