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Tycoon enters ‘not guilty’ plea

Premchai Karnasuta pleaded not guilty to a charge of illegal possession of firearms during a hearing at the Criminal Court yesterday.The hearing that began yesterday was one one of three separate proceedings against the embattled construction tycoon.The Italian-Thai Development Plc president also faces seven other charges, including wildlife poaching and importing African elephant tusks, in two other cases.The 63-year-old yesterday appeared in court to acknowledge the firearms charge.Prosecutors from Region 8 decided to indict Mr Premchai on April 11 for illegal possession of firearms in violation of the Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Fireworks Act, NCPO order No.44 and the Criminal code.The indictment came after investigators from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division reportedly found 43 weapons and a quantity of ammunition during a Feb 7 search of Mr Premchai’s residence on Soi Sun Wichai 3 in Huai Khwang district, Bangkok. Three rifles and a pistol were allegedly unlicensed. Mr Premchai denied the charge and insisted he would fight the case in court. He was released on 200,000-baht bail.The construction tycoon and three companions were arrested on the night of Feb 4 for allegedly hunting animals in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, a Unesco World Heritage site, in Kanchanaburi province.They were found in possession of the carcasses of protected animals, including a rare black leopard and its pelt.

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