Jail time for Thai construction magnate for wildlife poaching

pheasant with grey body, white in the back and red head
Kalij pheasant in Thailand, photo: Feather Collector via Canva

Thailand’s Supreme Court sentenced construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta to two and a half years in prison without probation on charges related to wildlife poaching in a national park.

Karnasuta, president of construction company Italian-Thai Development (ITD), was found guilty of possessing a firearm without a permit, enabling poaching and possessing the carcass of a protected animal.

He was arrested in 2018 after park officials discovered guns and animal carcasses, including of a kalij pheasant and a red muntjac, a deer species native to Asia, at his campsite.

He was found guilty of poaching related crimes, but it took three years of appeals before being sentenced to jail time on Wednesday. The Supreme Court upheld the original guilty verdict.

The decision brings to a close the long-running case that sparked public anger in a country fed up with perceived impunity for influential and wealthy people.

Karnasuta’s company is behind major infrastructure projects such as the Suvarnabhumi airport and Bangkok’s sky train. Until 2016, he and his sister were on the Forbes Top 50 richest list for Thailand, with an estimated $630 million fortune at that time.

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