As viral slain panther art mysteriously deleted from Facebook, Premchai travels abroad

The viral panther photo (left) and Premchai at the scene of the alleged crimes (right).
The viral panther photo (left) and Premchai at the scene of the alleged crimes (right).

Interest and outrage in the case of Italian-Thai Development Company Director Premchai Karnasuta’s alleged illegal killing of a protected black panther in a Kanchanaburi wildlife sanctuary has far from abated.

Over the weekend, a viral photo of a massive black panther crying while perched atop Italthai Tower, the unmistakable Petchburi Road round building that houses Premchai’s massive construction company offices, circulated online. Weirdly, the original post was reported to have disappeared soon after it was published but it is unknown why, or who, removed it.

It is also unknown who created the original photo but it was shared by well-loved indie film director and artist Surussavadi Chuarchart, who republished the photo on Thursday, but reported that her post was removed an hour later.

When she shared it again, on Friday, it was with the caption, “Yesterday I shared this photo and in less than one hour, it went viral. The original picture was removed [from Facebook.] So if you want to delete it, just do it. But all the shit you do can’t be erased.” The last sentence seeming to be in reference to Premchai’s suspected crimes, as if he could have a connection to the photo being removed.

Her latter share has, to date, gotten 118,000 reactions and 93,000 shares, mostly by outraged Thais, who want Premchai brought to justice.

Coconuts reached out to Surussavadi, hoping to get more information about the mysterious viral photo. The director said that she didn’t create the photo, just shared it. She also said that it was so viral, she didn’t know who originally created it. She also did not know how her original post disappeared, she just saw that it was gone. She refused to comment further.

Perhaps in retaliation, someone has replaced the headquarter building’s photo on Google Maps with an image of the panther atop the building.

Meanwhile, Premchai flew out of the country to Bangladesh on Saturday and returned on Sunday.

Though he is facing serious allegations, he has not yet lost his rights to international travel. Royal Thai Police Deputy Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said Premchai is within his rights to travel abroad for now.

So far, Premchai and the three friends that joined him on the trip are facing ten charges that include: killing a protected species, illegal hunting in a wildlife sanctuary, illegal possession of guns and ammunition in the park, and animal cruelty. These are punishable by up to 21 years in prison with a maximum fine of THB190,000 (US$6,068).

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OPINION: Why students at Thailand’s top uni protesting killing of protected panther matters

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