Appeals Court upholds 6 month sentence for Premchai on weapons charge

PHOTO: Nation Thailand

The Appeals Court has upheld the 6 month prison term handed down to construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta for illegal possession of firearms. Premchai, the president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, appeared on Tuesday to hear the verdict. The court ruled to uphold the lower court’s decision. Premchai was granted release on unconditional bail, with 500,000 baht cash placed as bond. His lawyers said they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The weapons charge is one of many that Premchai faces after he and his aides were arrested at an unauthorised hunting camp in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi in 2018. Park rangers found carcasses of wildlife, including a rare black leopard.

The construction tycoon is also being prosecuted for attempting to bribe state officials. He was sentenced earlier this week to a year in prison that charge. The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Case convicted him of attempting to bribe an official after hearing audio evidence. That sentence comes without the possibility of parole. The public prosecutor said Premchai will appeal that case and posted bail at 200,000 baht.

Premchai’s case captured national attention on in February 2018. The high-profile construction tycoon and three aides were found surrounded by animal carcasses and guns in a protected wildlife sanctuary.

Head forest ranger Wichien Chinnawong claimed on February 8 that Premchai tried to bribe him and other forest officials to let the case slide.

Wichien submitted a 20 minute audio recording as evidence, where Premchai was heard saying, “Is there any way you could help me out? Any measures to follow? If you need anything, I’ll get it for you.” The court found the recording to be sufficient evidence of attempted bribery, even though the bribe was not explicitly mentioned.

In March, the Thong Pha Phum Provincial Court in Kanchanaburi sentenced Premchai to 16 months for weapons-related charges and conspiring to poach wildlife.

The court found Premchai innocent of killing and eating a black panther in a wildlife sanctuary.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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