ALL DEFENDANTS in the much-publicised binturong (bearcat) hunting case, with the exception of one fugitive, denied all charges at the Kanchanaburi Provincial Court yesterday.
The case involves 14 defendants, including Watcharachai Sameerak – deputy district chief of Kanchanaburi’s Dan Makham Tia. The defendant on the run hails from the Karen tribe and is known by the name Jenra or Jeera.
The defendants were arrested in October 2018 for allegedly poaching wildlife at the Sai Yok National Park in Kanchaburi province. They were found to have in their possession a rifle with a silencer, two other guns, ammunition and a binturong carcass at the time of arrest.
Officials from the Sai Yok National Park began searching for this group after realising that they had not left the park at closing time and began suspecting they may be engaged in illegal hunting.
This case has attracted public attention because in early 2018, construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was also arrested for alleged hunting in Kanchanaburi. Given the public outcry against Premchai, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would try to flout anti-poaching laws.
Police investigation identified 14 suspects in the binturong hunting case and they face 17 charges, though the number of charges per defendant differs. Some members of the group face additional charges of firearms possession and alcohol consumption in a prohibited area.
With the exception of Jenra, all defendants came to court yesterday to listen to their charges. However, since they have denied their charges, the court will have to hold trials to examine the evidence. The defendants refused to speak to the media.