Their move comes as the Italian-Thai Development president reportedly asked for a postponement of his meeting with authorities about the charges he is facing.
Witthawat Banleng, chief of the student association of the Faculty of Forestry, said the delay makes him worry the appointment will be “put back indefinitely”.
He wants the prime minister to take the case seriously, and make sure the investigation will be accountable and carried out in a transparent manner.
Transparency will boost the morale of authorities protecting the forest, Mr Witthawat said.
The hunting scandal came to light after wildlife officials arrested Premchai and three subordinates on Feb 4 in the western part of the Thungyai Naresuan wildlife sanctuary, a world heritage site in Kanchanaburi, after finding them illegally camped in a prohibited zone and in possession of the carcases and skins of protected species.
The carcases included the pelt of a rare black Indochinese leopard which had been shot.
The four men were later released on bail and are due to appear in court on March 26 to hear the charges against them.
The students’ call came after environmental activist and Sueb Nakhasathien Foundation chairman, Sasin Chalermlarp, vowed to launch a campaign to urge police to speed up their investigation.
Mr Sasin posted on his Facebook page that the case had made little progress despite apparently compelling evidence, including a leopard pelt, guns and audio clips.
“I feel some officials may want to help Mr Premchai,” he wrote.
This is a very serious issue, and he could not help but raise doubts over why Premchai and his group were temporarily released.
The four suspects have been charged with various law violations, including unauthorised hunting in the forest refuge.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment also conducted a ballistics analysis in Kanchanaburi’s Thung Yai Naresuan Sanctuary. The evidence will be submitted to Capt Sumit Boonyanit of the Thong Pha Phum precinct.
However, the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department later withdrew a charge of animal torture as the suspects were deemed not to have contravened the 2011 act on the prevention of the cruelty to animals and animal welfare management.
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