THE NATIONAL Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department has assessed the damage allegedly caused by construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta and three other suspects to the ecology of Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary to be worth Bt12.75 million, a source said yesterday.
This amount will be included in a civil lawsuit filed against Premchai, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, and his three companions, who were arrested at the park in Kanchanaburi province in early February.
Premchai and his companions have already been charged with nine criminal counts related to poaching after the remains of protected animals, including a black leopard, were found at their campsite.
Public prosecutors recommended that police initiate the civil lawsuit against the suspects and seek compensation for damages.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said the damage was initially set at Bt3 million, but that sum was reviewed by a committee chaired by department deputy director-general Jongklai Worapongsathorn. Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, chief of the department’s Phaya Sua wildlife enforcement taskforce, who led the raid and arrested the suspects, was a member of the committee.
The damage included the expense to authorities of breeding, caring for and returning to the wild protected animals to replace those that were killed, as well as subsequent efforts to ensure their welfare.
The same source said expenses related to the black leopard were estimated to be Bt12 million, while the remaining Bt750,000 was for a wild boar and kalij pheasant.
The department has already submitted its report to Kanchanaburi police, who will forward it to public prosecutors.
Meanwhile, deputy national police chief Pol General Srivara Rangsibhramanakul said police had also decided to seek a charge against Premchai concerning two pairs of tusks seized from his house.
Permits for the tusks suggested that they were from domestic elephants, but tests proved they were of African origin. As authorities had not found customs records for the tusks, they were seeking to charge Premchai for violating customs laws. The tusks are estimated to be worth Bt4 million.
Police have already sent a docket concerning the nine criminal charges against Premchai, who is free on bail, to prosecutors. However, the file was sent back with a request for more information.
Srivara also lashed out at criticism that the request showed police had not been working hard enough. He said police had only just received from the Wildlife Department results of DNA tests on the animal remains found in a garbage bag at Premchai’s campsite.
“It is normal practice that prosecutors ask for more information. We’ve just received DNA results from the department, so we will add those to the case before re-submitting it to prosecutors,” he said.
He warned people who criticised police to express their opinions “within boundaries”, while threatening that police might bring lawsuits against critics.
“Maybe they [critics] have nothing to do, or are jobless, so they criticise us,” Srivara said.
Premchai and the three others suspects yesterday reported themselves to Kanchanaburi police as ordered by the court. They refused to talk to waiting