Bangkok: A Thai millionaire once listed among the country’s richest people was found guilty of attempting to bribe park officials after being caught poaching protected animals.
Premchai Karnasuta, president of construction giant Italian-Thai Development, was sentenced to one year in prison yesterday.
Yesterday’s verdict came on top of a 16-month sentence handed down by a court two-and-a-half months ago, for charges related to poaching protected animals including a black leopard, as well as illegal possession of carcasses of protected animals and firearms.
Wildlife rangers arrested the 65-year-old tycoon, along with four other people, in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a world heritage site in western Thailand, in February 2018.
The rangers said they heard gunshots and followed the sound, only to find the carcasses of a black leopard, a barking deer and Kalij pheasants.
The black leopard – a vulnerable species – was found dissected and scalped.
The rangers, who said they were offered bribes but turned them down, also found by the campsite two rifles, a double-barrelled shotgun and various bullets.
The incident caused widespread public outrage, with many taking to social media to express their scepticism at the capability of the country’s justice system to bring the tycoon to justice, saying the system often lets the rich and powerful walk free.
Premchai and his sister Nijaporn Charanachitta were listed by Forbes magazine in 2016 as Thailand’s 35th richest people, with a net worth of US$630mil (RM2.62bil). — dpa