Defence witnesses on Wednesday gave the testimonies in the trial of a billionaire construction tycoon accused of leading a poaching expedition that killed a black leopard in a Kanchanaburi wildlife sanctuary earlier this year.
Defendants Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development, and his close aide Yong Dodkrau testified earlier on December 19.
Premchai, Yong, and two other close aides of the tycoon, Thanee Thummart and Natee Riemsan, were arrested in February after forest rangers raided their camp site inside Thung Yai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary and discovered weapons and the freshly killed carcasses of protected animals, including a black leopard.
The arrest of Premchai has stirred public interest due to the tycoon’s vast wealth and close connections with influential figures in government. His Italian-Thai Development company has won contracts with several governments and boasts a policy of environmental protection.
Many believe the tycoon will evade prosecution thanks to his personal and business connections with influential people.
Premchai’s lawyer Witoon Yamprai told reporters at the courthouse on Wednesday that the witnesses testifying were Premchai’s former aide Thanee Thummart and Noppadon Pruksawan, former director of the marine national park department.
Noppadon reportedly asked authorities to allow Premchai to enter the wildlife sanctuary for an environmental study trip.