Royal Thai Police deputy commissioner Pol General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul on Tuesday insisted that police had not delayed their probe into construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta and his three companions, who are accused of illegal hunting in Kanchanaburi’s Thung Yai Naresuan Sanctuary.
Srivara said the police investigation into 10 charges had progressed to 80 per cent completion, and officers had interviewed 30 witnesses. He said they should be able to conclude their investigation by March 24, the date when the fourth-session bail for Premchai and the three others would expire and on which they have been ordered to meet court officials.
He also affirmed that if Premchai failed to meet police on March 5 at Kanchanaburi’s Thong Pha Phum precinct, police would apply for arrest warrant because he had already failed to respond to two previous summons while on bail.
Srivara also explained that a charge of cruelty to wildlife animals against the 63-year-old Premchai was withdrawn last week because there was no such offence stated in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal and Animal Welfare Act 2014. He also said that he had assigned police officers to investigate a complaint that the plaintiff had intended to bully a man or lodge a false complaint.
Pol Colonel Wacharin Phusit, deputy commander at the police Anti-Corruption Division, said evidence on the bribery attempt charge against Premchai was rather weak because an audio clip cited as evidence turned out to be a conversation between another suspect, Yong Dodkhruea, and a forestry official following the arrests.
He said police were hoping to get more information from sanctuary chief Wichien Chinnawong and five other witnesses on March 8. Investigators would then hold a meeting on March 12 to discuss whether to file the bribery attempt charge.
In related news, Seub Nakhasathien Foundation head Sasin Chalermlarp invited the media to cover a public event following up the Premchai case. The event, at the foundation office in Nonthaburi, would be held on Monday, March 5, to mark a month since Premchai’s arrest at the sanctuary. To be aired on Facebook Live, it will see the foundation issue a statement asking for an update on progress in the investigation.