National deputy Police Commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul , the first witness to testify in front of Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court on Tuesday over the high-profile black-panther poaching case against Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Karnasuta and his three associates, has expressed confidence that the case will be successfully prosecuted.
Declining to reveal details of his testimony as that would be contempt of court, Srivara told reporters that public prosecutors had performed their duties fully and would be able to prosecute the defendants, so people “should follow the development of the case” in the coming weeks.
The second witness to take the stand in the afternoon was Kanchanaburi’s Thung Yai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary chief Wichien Chinnawong, who had led officials in making the high-profile arrest of Premchai.
Premchai and three other persons – Yong Dodkrua, Thanee Thummat and Nathee Riamsaen – were arrested in early February at the campsite within the sanctuary for allegedly entering the area without permission along with guns and ammunition, and for poaching a number of wild animals, including a black leopard, a Kalij pheasant, and a barking deer.
They were initially charged with nine offences, but three were later dropped by police.
It was announced in court that the four defendants were facing six charges: carrying firearms in public without permission; hunting wildlife inside a sanctuary without permission; killing protected wildlife without permission; possessing a protected wild animal’s carcass without permission; hiding or receiving an illegally hunted wild animal’s carcass; and harvesting products from a protected forest without permission.
Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court has scheduled 10 sessions for the hearing of evidence, with 32 witness testimonies from the prosecutors’ side on November 27-30, December 6-7, December 11-13 and December 18.
These will be followed by 17 witness testimonies from the defendants’ side, who are scheduled to take the stand in six sessions on December 19-21 and December 25-27.
The four defendants also face a civil lawsuit filed by the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, demanding that they pay Bt12.75 million in damages to the sanctuary.
The defendants were told to submit their written testimonies in the civil case by December 11.