Tycoon sent to prison for wildlife poaching

Case closed: A woman touching a drawing of a black panther crying during a protest against Premchai in Bangkok. — Reuters

A Thai tycoon accused of poaching wildlife in a national park lost his final appeal in a long-running saga that drew public outrage.

Construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta was arrested in February 2018 when park officials found guns, animal carcasses – including of a kalij pheasant and a red muntjac – and the pelt of a black leopard at his campsite.Construction magnate Premchai KarnasutaConstruction magnate Premchai Karnasuta

Premchai was found not guilty of possessing a leopard carcass, but he was convicted of three other poaching-related charges and sentenced to 16 months jail. It was raised to three years and two months by the Appeals Court.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict and sentence of three years and two months, a court official confirmed.

He and two other defendants were ordered to pay two million baht (RM253,563) in compensation.

Premchai, who arrived in a Range Rover sporting an eye patch, will not receive a suspended sentence, according to the attorney general’s office. He was sent to Thong Pha Phum district prison.

The decision brings to a close a long-running case that sparked public anger in a kingdom fed up with perceived impunity for powerful figures.

Premchai’s firm, Italian-Thai Development Company, is behind major infrastructure projects such as Bangkok’s sky train and Suvarnabhumi airport.

He and his sister were on the Forbes Top 50 richest list for Thailand until 2016 with an estimated US$630mil (RM2.6bil) fortune at the time, but they have since dropped off the ranking. — AFP

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