Environment groups pressure ITD to sack president Premchai over hunting charges

national February 15, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

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THREE ENVIRONMENTAL groups, including Greenpeace, yesterday called for the Italian-Thai Development (ITD) to immediately sack its president, who has been slapped with nine poaching-related charges, warning that his alleged criminal behaviour would severely tarnish the firm’s reputation.



One pro-environment group, meanwhile, asked for reviews of poaching-related legislation and additional punishment for offenders.

Greenpeace Thailand and environmentalist Facebook pages Khonarurak and Big Trees Projects issued a statement addressed to the construction firm’s chairman, Krisorn Jittorntrum, saying that the board should act immediately against Premchai Karnasuta instead of adopting a wait-and-see strategy.

“In this digital era, no organisation can evade responsibility forever. The delay to act will further tarnish the reputation of those involved as well as the firm and the families involved. They will have no place to stand in society,” the statement said.

ITD should consider Premchai as a company employee, not its majority shareholder, and evidence that he had violated the firm’s good governance policy concerning national resources and the environment. 

“The firm should cut itself from Premchai’s problems by assigning other employees to do his job,” the statement continued. The firm should take responsibility as the public was outraged by the case, the statement said. If it ignored the moves, shareholders, employees and contracts with the government and the private sector could be affected.

Premchai, who has denied the charges and is free on bail, was arrested with three other suspects earlier this month on nine charges concerning poaching and hunting in Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi province. 

The butchered remains of black leopard, barking deer and pheasant were found at Premchai’s campsite.

Pitchanat Plaiduang, president of a nationwide volunteer network for the protection of natural resources and the environment, submitted a petition to the National Legislative Assembly, demanding the prosecution of Premchai and his accomplices. 

The letter said Premchai’s case is a troubling violation of the rules of law by an influential person.

Sompote Maneerat, spokesman of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants department, said that police were asked to look into a photo of Premchai and three others men that went viral on social media platforms.

The photo showed Premchai sitting in front of a tent reportedly in a Kanchanaburi forest. Sompote said that he sent the photo to Wichian Shinwong, chief of Thung Yai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary to check where the photo was taken.

The photo was posted on Yod Dod Krua’s Facebook page on December 2016. Police were asked to locate a man in the photo to confirm where the photo was taken.

 

The investigation has expanded to lands in Loei province and has resulted in forest encroachment complaints filed against Premchai’s three sisters.

Chiefs of Phu Rua and Dan Sai forest protection units, Chalongchai Salangam and Bandit Wongarin, filed the complaint against Premchai’s sisters, accusing them of deforesting and encroaching on the forest which is protected under the 1941 Forestry Law.

They were allegedly involved in obtaining 38 land title deeds reportedly on some parts of 6,215 rais of land despite the fact they knew it was state land, according to police. Their company, CPK International, initially owned 6,229 rais of land in Phu Rua and Dan Sai districts. 

However, in 2003, the Land Department revoked all the documents as the land occupation documents were misused and the lands were to be returned to the state. 

However, the firm refused to leave the land and later allegedly used false documents to obtain ownership of 38 land deeds. The case, according to a police statement, has cost Bt620 million.

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