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WFFT charges top DNP officials with defamation

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PHUKET: A Dutch-born wildlife activist has filed defamation charges against top-ranking Thai officials of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for claiming his shelter in Petchaburi was involved in the torture and trade of protected wildlife species.

The charges are the latest salvo in the battle between the DNP and the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), whose shelter was subjected to an eight-day DNP raid a month ago that saw 103 animals removed – purportedly for lack of correct paperwork.

Mr Wiek told the Phuket Gazette that he was absolutely certain the raids were motivated out of revenge for comments Mr Wiek made about the DNP and the illegal elephant trade in Thailand.

Asked if he feared that any of the primates seized may end up as testing “guinea pigs” at the newly-established National Primate Research Center in Saraburi, Mr Wiek said he was confident that all of the confiscated animals would eventually have to be returned “because all of the paperwork is in order”.

However, Mr Wiek said yesterday that the DNP had so far returned only four animals to the sanctuary.

“Of 99 animals still held by the DNP, 21 were born at our facility,” he said.

“They received letters acknowledging the births, but then they never came here to mark them or complete the registration process properly, such as by implanting them with microchips. They have actually neglected their job,” he said.

The DNP, citing economic constraints, never carried through on a 2003 ministerial regulation requiring animals registered with them during the 2003 “amnesty period” to be micro-chipped, he added.

As current chair of the WFFT board, Mr Wiek’s wife, Jansaeng Sangnanork, was arrested during the raids.

“They really wanted me, but she took the hit because she can never be kicked out of the country. That’s why the DNP is so angry, because now the fight is against a 34-year-old Thai woman crying on television, not a bald fat Dutch guy with a big mouth,” he said.

The WFFT has already filed defamation charges against some top-level DNP officials and is preparing to do the same against the DNP Director General Damrong Phidet, he revealed.

The raid on the WFFT shelter and the recent raid on the compound of a notorious wildlife trader in Saraburi highlights the double standards in the way the DNP is currently run, he said.

In the raid on the Saraburi trader, the owner told DNP officials he needed five days to compile the paperwork. None of the animals were removed from the compound, even though the facility was not registered as a private zoo and the owner had a previous conviction for illegal possession of protected species, Mr Wiek said.

 

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