Lt Col Thada Sodarak of the Chalong Police explained to The Phuket News today that the elephant is alive and well, and working at the Amazing Bukit Safari Camp in Chalong.
The camp has always maintained that the elephant is called Nampetch and have presented registration documents of their own to prove ownership.
The elephant was at the camp when Somsak Reangngern from Surin province filed his claim of ownership, claiming that the elephant was stolen, somehow arrived in Krabi, and sold from there. (See story here.)
Over the past year, the investigation has continued into the tenuous battle for rights to ownership of Yo/Nampetch that began in March, 2017, Col Thada explained today.
“The claim by Mr Somsak is still being heard in the civil court,” he said.
Col Thada also confirmed that the criminal court is still hearing the charge of presenting false documents in order to claim ownership of the elephant.
“My job is working on a criminal charge of ‘making fake documents’, as filed by the owner of Namphet, Mr Pichai Pausuphachareu,” he said.
Of note, Lt Col Winai Poonsawat, Deputy Chief of the Ao Nang police in Krabi province, last year confirmed that Raewat Chernkaew, the man who sold the elephant to the camp, with group theft at night using a vehicle.
Col Thada noted that it took a long time to receive the final documents needed to proceed with the legal process.
“Then it took time to receive the documents from The Elephant Center in Surin province. This is taking a lot of time because it is a complicated case involving both the criminal and civil courts,” he said.
“I want to see the court case in Phuket brought to conclusion, but I still have witnesses to question about this case. My involvement is still not finished,” he added.
Regardless, Col Thada has his own opinion on who rightfully owns the elephant, based on photos he has been given by both sides in their claims.
“Our investigation has incovered that the two elephants ages are different, and can be seen by evidence,” Col Thada said.
“Yo is supposed to be 73 years old, but Nampetch is supposed to be 45 years old. The age and size of the elephants are different,” he noted.
“I believe that the evidence that is being provided to claim that the elephant is Yo is actually of another, different elephant,” he said.
However, Col Thada added, “I will be fair to both sides in my investigation and go by the facts only, and in the end everything is up to the judge.”