Court Affirms Firearms Jail Term for Premchai

Premchai Karnasuta at the Court of Appeals on Aug. 11, 2020.
Premchai Karnasuta at the Court of Appeals on Aug. 11, 2020.

BANGKOK — A construction mogul was sentenced to six months in prison for illegally possessing firearms in a high-profile case involving the poaching of wildlife in a protected forest.

The Court of Appeals convicted Italian-Thai Development CEO Premchai Karnasuta of owning three rifles and a pistol without permit at his house in Bangkok. The unregistered firearms were found along a pair of elephant tusks during a police raid of his home in 2018.

The charge was among many pressed against Premchai and his aides after they were caught poaching endangered animals, including a black panther, in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary in February 2018.

He was previously sentenced to a year in prison for bribery and another 16 months for conspiring to poach wildlife last year.

In its ruling, the court said the defendant’s claim that the firearms belonged to his late father contradicted his confession. The court also found the defendant’s extensive collection of unlicensed guns to be a risk of public safety.

Premchai confessed to the allegations and posted bail at 500,000 baht. His bail request is due to be approved by the court.