Construction tycoon Premchai Karnasuta was sentenced to six months in prison, without suspension, by the Criminal Court this morning (Tuesday) after he was found guilty of possessing three hunting rifles and a home-made firearm without licenses.

The court agreed to cut the one-year jail term by half because he had confessed, but declined to suspend the imprisonment because there are still two criminal cases, carrying possible prison terms, pending against the defendant at the Thong Phaphum provincial court in Kanchanaburi province and at the Region 7 Criminal Court for Corruption Cases.

Today’s case against Mr. Premchai, the boss of Italian-Thai Development Corporation, one of Thailand’s leading construction companies, was related to illegal hunting in the Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary, during which one black panther, an endangered species, and several protected species were killed.

In March this year, Premchai was sentenced to 16 month in prison the Thong Phaphum provincial court after being found guilty on three charges, namely aiding and abetting others to hunt illegally in a wildlife sanctuary, possession of the remains of protected wildlife species and illegal possession of firearms in public.  He was acquitted of the charge of illegal possession of the black panther carcass.  He was granted bail but banned from leaving the country without permission from the court.

In today’s case of illegal possession of firearms, Premchai had denied the charges, but he changed his plea when he confessed to the charge at the first hearing of the case in July.  The court then ordered parole officials to prepare pre-sentencing reports before determining the punishment.

Prior to the sentencing this morning, Premchai, through his lawyer, pleaded to the court for leniency, claiming that he planned to go into the monkhood for 15 days at Wat Bowornnivet or any other temple, that he will donate three million baht to charity and will stay away from guns the rest of his life.

The court said that Premchai’s three vows were praiseworthy and expressed hope that he would keep his vows, but added that the court would not suspend the six-month prison sentence.

Premchai’s lawyer has asked the court for bail pending an appeal of the conviction. Bail was later granted.

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