Tue, October 26, 2021

in-focus

Phuket national park encroachers slapped with hefty sentences


The Criminal Court slapped five people with a jail sentence and ordered a defendant to pay 800 million baht in compensation for encroaching into the Sirinat National Park and Khao Ruak – Khao Muang National Forest in Phuket.

The sentence was issued on September 25.

“The Department [of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation] filed a case with the Department of Special Investigation [DSI] on August 14, 2012, after a group of businessmen allegedly used the Sor Kor 1 document to appropriate title deeds for 93 rai of land in Phuket worth 4 billion baht,” deputy director-general of the Royal Forest Department Cheewaphap Cheewatham said on Thursday.

Cheewaphap was previously the chief of Phuket’s Sirinat National Park.

“The 93 rai was actually located inside the national park and forest, and this was confirmed with aerial photographs. The DSI accepted the case in November 2014,” he said.

The court found five of the defendants guilty and sentenced two to 10 years in jail, namely Praphas Sae-Ong, who is on the run, and Anek Leepracha, a lobbyist responsible for buying several plots of land in Phuket. The court also revoked the land title deeds held by three other defendants but did not sentence them as two are deceased and one is a 90-year-old bedridden patient.

Another two defendants, an individual and a juristic entity, were acquitted because the court said they are only buyers and had nothing to do with the issuing of title deeds.

The court also ordered Anek to pay a compensation of 800 million baht to the state and told him to remove his people from the land under dispute immediately.

Cheewaphap added that the Royal Forest Department is investigating several other encroachment cases in Phuket.

Published : October 01, 2021