The Seub Nakhasathien Foundation, a well-known conservation group, said if a mass protest were to hit the streets, it would be met with huge support from members of the public.
“If no charges of premeditated killing and poaching of wildlife in the police investigation are submitted to the prosecution [against the suspects], we won’t have to take the trouble of urging anyone to come out to join our movement,” Sasin Chalermlarp, the foundation president, said yesterday (Mar 5).
“We definitely won’t bow to that. People will take to the streets on a scale similar to the whistle-blower street rallies,” Mr Sasin said. He was drawing a comparison to the large-scale street protests spearheaded by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee against the Yingluck Shinawatra administration between late 2013 and May 2014.
Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development Plc, was arrested, along with three other people, at a no-camping zone in the Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary on Feb 4 on suspicion of illegal hunting.
They were found in possession of the carcasses of protected wild animals and a black Indochinese leopard’s pelt.
Mr Sasin said the police have evidence clearly proving that Premchai and the other suspects had weapons and were camped in a prohibited area from where gunshots were later heard. It was there that wildlife carcasses were found and retrieved as evidence.
He said the police should speed up their work in preparing an investigation report to submit to prosecutors along with a recommendation to indict the construction mogul. He also suggested prosecutors bring the case to court in a timely fashion.
At the same time, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation should closely monitor legal proceedings in the case and ensure the police investigation report is watertight before prosecutors have a look at it, he said.
The environmental activist said a copy of his remarks will be delivered to national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. The foundation and its network is also seeking to meet Gen Chakthip and ask him to accelerate the investigation.
We need the police chief’s assurance that the prosecution of Premchai and the other suspects will not be stalled or result in “weak” indictments, he said.
Mr Sasin also said the foundation is considering whether to press for a change of police investigators in charge of the case.
Meanwhile, deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said Premchai will not be charged over the illegal registration of four tusks from African elephants seized from his house.
He said it is Premchai’s wife who stands to be prosecuted.
She registered the tusks which were described as belonging to Thai elephants not African ones.
Ivory from foreign elephants cannot be registered under Thai law.
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