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Death of official in custody will not affect probe of Phuket land: DSI

Aug 08. 2017
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By THE NATION

THE DEATH of a former land official will not affect the ongoing process to cancel land-rights documents he illegitimately issued for two seaside plots of land in Phuket, which are now worth about Bt910 million, authorities have said.

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) deputy chief Pol Lt-Colonel Prawut Wongsrinil yesterday said legal proceedings related to the illegitimate issuance of land-rights documents would continue. 

He was referring to Tawatchai Anukul, a former land official who was arrested last year on allegations that he illegitimately issued documents for four land plots. Tawatchai died while in DSI custody.

Last week, the Criminal Court ruled out the possibility that Tawatchai had committed suicide and police are preparing to investigate further to determine who caused his death. 

Prawut said apart from Tawatchai, there were two other defendants in the case.

“One has already confessed and been sentenced to two years in jail. The other defendant has been fighting his case in court but the trials are about to conclude, with just one more witness to testify. Soon the ruling will come out,” Prawut said. 

He added that there was clear evidence that land-rights documents for two of land plots were illegitimately issued. The land department has already been informed.

“As for [the documents for] two other plots issued by Tawatchai, we will investigate further,” he said. 

In a related development, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Sanit Mahathavorn recently said investigators were preparing to inquire into Tawatchai’s death. “If the probe identifies suspects, we will charge them. And if suspects are [government] officials of C8 [executive] level up, we will submit an investigation report to the National Anti-Corruption Commission,” Sanit said.

“But if those involved are officials below C8 level, we will submit the investigation report to the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.” 

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