11 July 2024

The Thong Phaphume provincial court in Thailand’s western province of Kanchanaburi is scheduled to deliver its long-awaited verdict in the illegal hunting case in which a billionaire Thai construction tycoon is charged with killing protected species.

The alleged offence took place on February 3rd last year in Kanchanaburi’s Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary.  The hunting party included Mr. Premchai Karnasuta, the CEO of Italian-Thai Development Corporation, Mr. Yong Dodkrua, Mr. Thani Thummat and cook Mrs. Nathee Riamsaen. They were arrested by forest rangers, led by Mr. Wichien Chinnawong, in possession of the carcasses of a panther and other animals.

The poaching arrest of the influential construction tycoon caused public uproar and fueled public awareness of Thailand’s wildlife, especially endangered species like the panther.

The prolonged trial and social status of the key suspect have fueled public skepticism about whether justice will ever be delivered or the culprits punished.

Nine charges, including illegal hunting of a protected species and illegal firearm possession, were filed against the four suspects who have all pleaded not guilty. 32 prosecution and 16defence witnesses testified during the trial.

Mr. Sasin Chalermlarp, president of the Sueb Nakhasathien foundation, said that he expects the four defendants will not serve time, even if they are found guilty, because this is their first offence.

After the reading of the verdict tomorrow, the Sueb Nakhasathien foundation will hold a panel discussion on the illegal hunting case on Wednesday at the office of the Thai Journalists Association.