Tycoon gets additional year in prison in poaching case

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Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development PLC, arrives at a court in Bangkok, Tuesday, June 11. (NNT Photo)
Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development PLC, arrives at a court in Bangkok, Tuesday, June 11. (NNT Photo)

Bangkok (AP) — A Bangkok court said in a statement on Tuesday that it had sentenced Premchai Karnasuta, the president of Italian-Thai Development PLC, to an additional one year in prison for bribing a park ranger in relation to a high-profile case of poaching endangered animals in a wildlife sanctuary last year.

In February last year, Premchai and his company’s employees were found with guns and the carcasses of a black panther and other animals in the sanctuary where they had set up a camp to go hunting.

Premchai was sentenced to 16 months in prison for possessing the carcass of an endangered Kajij pheasant and firearms in public areas. He was released on bail.

In March, three other companions of Premchai were found guilty of possessing the panther carcass. Only one defendant was found guilty of hunting in the wildlife sanctuary, and he and Premchai were fined 2 million baht.

However, Premchai was not found guilty of possessing the black panther carcass.

The case has been met with public skepticism that justice will be done and activists have worn masks of the slain big cat as a symbol of protest on several occasions and environmentalists have pledged to keep up pressure.

Premchai was released on bail shortly after Tuesday’s ruling while he appeals the case.