Wongduen Chinnawong shows a picture of her son Wichien on Thursday as she worries about his safety after the high-profile arrest in the Western Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, where he is park chief. (Photo by Sermpong Thongsumrit)

SI SA KET: The parents of Western Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary chief Wichien Chinnawong are worried for their son’s safety following the arrest of a high-profile figure for hunting protected animals in the park.

His mother, Wongduen Chinnawong, on Thursday asked high ranked officials to provide protection for Mr Wichien to ease her anxiety.

It follows the arrest of Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) president Premchai Karnasuta and three other people in the sanctuary with the carcasses of protected wild animals, including an endangered Indochinese black leopard, and firearms on Sunday night.

“We’re worried about him after watching him on TV. I called him but he did not answer the phone. Now my son called back and I am a bit relieved,” she said.

The ITD boss and his group have been charged on nine counts and then released on bail. All denied the allegations.

The news spotlight has been on Mr Wichien, who led the team of park rangers to apprehend them in the World Heritage forest in Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi province.

Mrs Wongduen said she would be happier if he was transferred from Thungyai Naresuan to a job closer to home in the northeastern region.

With the highly influential construction tycoon now a suspect, and penalties for the offences ranging up to a prison term, the public is watching how authorities handle the case.

Mr Wichien said on Wednesday that he would never give in to pressure or interference that might derail the case, no matter from whom.

At least 30 friends and local officials visited the family home in Yang Chum Noi district of Si Sa Ket on Thursday to cheer up Mrs Wongduen and her husband Korn, who was not at home.

Pol Col Kamolwat Suksai, the Yang Chum Noi police chief, ordered police to patrol their house to ensure their safety.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has warned that anybody trying to interfere in the investigation to help the Mr Premchai would face punishment.

The case will proceed in accordance with the law, to be decided by the evidence collecting by authorities, he said.

“Anybody trying to step in to help them will be punished,” the prime minister. “Anybody, no matter who they are, has to bear the consequences if they are found guilty.”

News Reporter

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