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Suthep’s son, 3 others back in court over Samui forest encroachment case

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Tan Thaugsuban, son of veteran politician and protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, along with three others appeared at the Criminal Court on Tuesday to acknowledge a retrial of the 2013 forest encroachment case.

The other defendants are Phongchai Fathaweeporn and Samart Ruangsi from Panya Construction Ltd and Suthep’s former secretary Banjerd Laopiyasakul.

Tan and Banjerd allegedly sold the land in question to the construction company.

Suthep’s son, 3 others back in court over Samui forest encroachment case

In 2013, all four were accused of illegally felling trees and occupying a 14-rai plot of forest land on Koh Samui island in Surat Thani. The prosecution also accused the four of building a reservoir on the land without permission.

In 2016, the court sentenced Tan and Banjerd each to three years in jail, while Phongchai and Samart were each slapped with a five-year term. They filed an appeal after they were released on bail.

In October 2018, the Appeal Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, but the Supreme Court rejected this decision and ordered the court to re-examine the case.

Tan’s lawyer Sawat Charoenphol said the court session on Tuesday was mainly to read the Appeal Court’s verdict to the defendants again.

“The court said it would examine the evidence that led to the ruling that the land in question was not encroaching on forest land,” he said. “Though the actual plot is larger than what is described in the NorSor3 document [detailing land utilisation for the Land Department], there is evidence proving that the land was never part of the national forest and had previously been owned by other people.”

Published : November 23, 2021

By : THE NATION