Wildlife sanctuary officials in forest camouflage hand over the impounded Toyota Land Cruiser to police at Thong Pha Phum station in Kanchanaburi province on Tuesday. It was used by construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta and his companions, who were arrested on the night of Feb 4 for hunting wildlife in the World Heritage Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. (Photo by Piyarach Chongcharoen)

KANCHANABURI: Park officials have added animal cruelty to the charges against construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who was arrested early this month for allegedly hunting wildlife in a World Heritage forest.

Pol Maj Gen Krisana Sapdej, deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 7, said officials of the Western Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary filed the complaint of animal cruelty on Monday.

As the whereabouts of Mr Premchai, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, were not known, police would send a summons this week for him to report and acknowledge the new charge, he said.

Cruelty to animals carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and/or fine of 40,000 baht.

Mr Premchai and three others were arrested on the night of Feb 4 when park rangers also found the carcasses of an endangered black Indochinese leopard, a protected Kalij pheasant and a barking deer near his camp in a no-camping area.

Earlier reports said they cooked and ate the meat. Eight bullet holes were later found in the leopard’s skin. The suspects were each released on bail of 150,000 baht, with no ban on leaving the country, and ordered to appear in court again on Feb 17.

The 63-year-old construction tycoon and his three companions already faced nine charges – including unauthorised hunting in a wildlife sanctuary, unauthorised hunting of protected wildlife, unauthorised possession of wildlife carcasses, and attempted hunting in a wildlife sanctuary.

Other charges were taking firearms into a wildlife sanctuary without authorisation, hiding illegally acquired wildlife carcasses, unauthorised entry into a wildlife sanctuary, unauthorised possession of hunting tools and unauthorised possession of guns and ammunition in the park, along with attempted bribery.

On Tuesday officials of the Western Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary handed a Toyota Land Cruiser of the 30th Anniversary edition to police for further examination.

The officials on Feb 6 impounded the four-wheel-drive vehicle Mr Premchai’s group used it to enter the wildlife sanctuary.

Wildlife protection officials continued to search their illegal campsite for more evidence on Tuesday.

A park ranger stands guard over Italian-Thai Development president Premchai Karnasuta, sitting, and the three other suspects at their camp in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, Kanchanaburi, on the night of Feb 4. (Photo by Khon Anurak Facebook)

News Reporter

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