Forensic expert questions Premchai acquittal of panther carcass possession
The chief of the Wildlife Forensic Science Unit, at the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, has raised questions about Tuesday’s dismissal by the Thong Pha Phume provincial court of the panther carcass possession charge laid against construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta.
In her Facebook post on Tuesday, Dr. Kanita Ouitavon said she used to tell herself not worry about the legal proceedings of the case but, when the verdict was delivered, she wondered whether she had overlooked something in her forensic work when identifying the carcasses of wildlife species collected from the crime scene.
“All the evidence, be it the panther skin with bullet holes, panther tail soup in the pot, bones from the stream, intestines, several knives, the chopping board, blood stains on leaves or on the ground, all showed that they came from the same panther,” said Dr. Kanita in her post, adding “Forensic science work does not just provide answers to what kind and how many animals are involved, but must provide more answers.”
The forensic expert went on to say that, while the case was complicated, the evidence collected is indicative of hunting, the killing of animals, cooking, eating and a cover-up attempt at the scene and the people who were present – all of them were linked together.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Surasak Kanchanarat said he would leave the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation to decide whether to appeal the verdict.
Meanwhile, deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General, Mr. Kosonwat Inthuchanyong, said today he would ask for the full text of the court’s verdict before deciding whether or not to appeal the court’s decision regarding possession of a panther carcass and illegal collection of forest products.
He insisted that the prosecutor had handled the case carefully and quickly, as the four defendants were indicted within a month of receiving the case from the police.
Mr. Premchai, the president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, one of Thailand’s largest construction firms, was charged on six counts, including illegal hunting of protected wild species, carrying weapons in public without a permit, possession of a panther carcass, possession of a grey pheasant carcass and illegal collection of wild items in the sanctuary.
However, the Thong Pha Phume provincial court only found him guilty of carrying firearms in public without a permit, possession of a grey pheasant carcass and abetting others in illegal hunting and sentenced him to 16 months in prison without suspension. He was subsequently released on 400,000 baht bail.
Yong Dodkrua was given 13 months imprisonment, Mrs. Nathee Riamsaeng 4 months and Thani Thummat 2 years and 17 months. All were granted bail.