Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who was imprisoned for hunting wildlife including a rare black panther, has been released from prison early on health grounds due to his diabetes. His family is said to be relieved at the news and he will receive treatment at Bumrungrad Hospital. #PremchaiKarnasuta #ThungyaiNaresuanWildlifeSanctuary #BlackPanther #WildlifeConservation #BumrungradHospital
Premchai Karnasuta Freed on Health Grounds
Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was released from prison on Tuesday, seven weeks before the end of his sentence on December 7. The Department of Corrections had reviewed proposals to commute the sentences of 567 eligible inmates, with 484 being approved. Among the approved inmates, 113 were permitted to be released on Tuesday, including Premchai.
Background: Wildlife Hunting Incident
Premchai, the former head of Italian-Thai Development Plc, had been serving time in Thong Pha Phum prison in Kanchanaburi for hunting wildlife. In 2018, he killed a rare black panther, a kalij pheasant, and a barking deer in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary is a Unesco World Heritage site located in Kanchanaburi.
Health Concerns and Early Release
The Department of Corrections stated that 69-year-old Premchai qualified for early release due to his diabetes. The disease had caused some dead tissue around his ankle to be removed. To avoid further injury, he will not be required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet during his probation. Instead, he must report regularly to department officials.
Legal Proceedings and Convictions
Premchai and three others were arrested on February 4, 2018, for illegal hunting in the sanctuary. They were found in possession of several dead animals, including a rare black leopard and its pelt. Premchai insisted he did not shoot the leopard himself.
Prosecutors indicted Premchai and others for breaching laws related to reserved forest land, wild animal conservation, environmental protection, possessing firearms without permission, and malfeasance in office. The lower court in Kanchanaburi convicted Premchai in March 2019 along with driver Yong Dodkruea, hunter Thanee Thummat, and Nathee Riemsaen, Premchai’s maid who served as a cook at the illegal camp.
The Court of Appeal increased their sentences in December 2019. Nathee received a suspended term of one year and eight months and did not appeal further. However, the three men took their case to the Supreme Court.
In December 2021, the Supreme Court handed sentences of two years and 14 months to Premchai, two years and 17 months to Yong, and two years and 21 months to Thanee. Thanee had died of cancer in July 2021. All three men were acquitted on one count but were found guilty of possessing wildlife carcasses. Their jail terms of eight months for that offense remained in force.
Compensation for Environmental Damage
The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeal order requiring the three men to pay 2 million baht in compensation for the damage to nature resulting from their illegal hunting.
Premchai’s Post-Release Plans
Upon release, Premchai, wearing a short-sleeved blue shirt and grey trousers and using a walking stick, was picked up outside the prison by his lawyers. He declined to speak to reporters. Witoon Yimprai, his lawyer, stated that Premchai’s family was relieved at his release. Due to his health issues, Premchai will be sent to Bumrungrad Hospital for treatment.
Keywords: Premchai Karnasuta, illegal hunting, wildlife protection, poaching
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Why was Premchai Karnasuta released early from prison?
Premchai Karnasuta, construction tycoon, was released early from prison due to health concerns related to his diabetes. The Department of Corrections reviewed proposals to commute the sentences of eligible inmates and granted early release to 484 inmates, including Premchai.
Q2: What was the background of the wildlife hunting incident?
In 2018, Premchai, the former head of Italian-Thai Development Plc, was found guilty of hunting wildlife, including a rare black panther, a kalij pheasant, and a barking deer, in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a Unesco World Heritage site in Kanchanaburi. Premchai and three others were arrested and convicted for breaching laws related to reserved forest land, wild animal conservation, and other offenses.
Q3: What are Premchai’s plans after his release?
Upon his release, Premchai’s lawyer Witoon Yimprai stated that his family was relieved and that Premchai would be sent to Bumrungrad Hospital for treatment due to his health issues related to diabetes.