Construction tycoon not searched for guns before he entered sanctuary, allegedly poached animals

Premchai Karnasuta (center) was arrested for hunting protected animals on Feb. 4.
Premchai Karnasuta (center) was arrested for hunting protected animals on Feb. 4.

The director of the Wildlife Conservation Office admitted that officials did not search construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta for weapons before he entered a wildlife sanctuary and was later found with three carcasses of protected species in his camp on Sunday.

Director Kanchana Nitiya spoke at a press conference yesterday following the allegation that Premchai, the managing director of Italian-Thai Development, abused his power and social status to enter the wildlife sanctuary without proper paperwork because he was her guest.

She said Premchai’s representative called her office to ask for permission, but as the paperwork was submitted at the last minute, she had not signed it yet, according to Thai PBS.

“Tourists and all people who want to study nature, they’re all our guests. We welcome everyone. Why else would the DNP have an emergency rescue team? It’s to help tourists. Everyone must also ask for permission, and we treat everyone equally,” Kanchana said.

In her widely-criticized statement, which has been shared widely, Kanchana also admitted that Premchai was not even searched for weapons before entering the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, implying someone “of his class” was not expected to commit a crime.

“I’m gonna be honest. He asked [for permission] to go in and study nature. Who would think someone of his class would do something like this? Usually, we randomly search people who go into the sanctuary,” Kanchana said.

It didn’t help when Surasak Kanchanarat, the minister of Natural Resource and Environment, said to reporters yesterday that people “should not use feelings to judge who’s in the wrong,” and must “wait until officials investigate to know who really committed the wrongful action.”

Meanwhile, social media was aflutter over a leaked old camping photo of Premchai, which was allegedly posted to Facebook in December of 2016. The comments under the photo suggested that Premchai and his company were allegedly “strolling and hunting in the woods.”

The photo was shared on the page of internet drama influencer Queen of Black Spades, an anonymous personality who shares tips and complaints she receives from people who want justice.

https://www.facebook.com/queentogetherisone/photos/a.883450645091438.1073741829.871684976268005/1190715134364986/?type=3&permPage=1

In a country where the rich and powerful often evade justice, several people responded on social media yesterday by sharing stock photos of the black panther, one of the animals found dead in and skinned in Premchai’s camp. Many captioned their photos with a sad poem written by Seub Nakhasathien, an environmental activist who committed suicide in 1990 in order to raise awareness for the environment.

“If your child was a wild animal, would you let them kill him? Everybody loves their lives, don’t you realize?”

https://www.facebook.com/Sawatdeekalaland/photos/a.936463959782177.1073741829.935786729849900/1594883863940180/?type=3&theater

Premchai was reportedly released on THB150,000 bail yesterday.

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