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‘Big Joke’ targets Koh Sarai chief over encroachment disputes on Koh Lipe

‘Big Joke’ targets Koh Sarai chief over encroachment disputes on Koh Lipe

The chief of Koh Sarai’s Subdistrict Administrative Organisation (SAO) is set to face two charges over disputes sparked by encroachment on state land.

Koh Sarai is made of three island groups, including Koh Tarutao, Koh Lipe and Koh Adang, in the Andaman Sea to the South of Thailand. These islands come under Satun province.

‘Big Joke’ targets Koh Sarai chief over encroachment disputes on Koh Lipe

The suspect faces charges for allegedly allowing resort owners to encroach on land owned by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), deputy National Police chief General Surachet “Big Joke” Hakparn said on Friday.

The official will also face charges of nonfeasance under the Criminal Code’s Section 157, he added.

Surachet said the SAO chief allegedly ignored local residents’ complaints that the resorts had fenced off their buildings and blocked public paths to the beach.

‘Big Joke’ targets Koh Sarai chief over encroachment disputes on Koh Lipe

DNP and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) have been jointly taking legal action against 44 cases of alleged encroachment on Koh Lipe since 2014. Most of these cases have resulted in court verdicts ordering resort owners to remove their structures from state-owned land.

‘Big Joke’ targets Koh Sarai chief over encroachment disputes on Koh Lipe

Surachet personally visited Satun this week to supervise legal action over disputes that have not been solved yet. He said investigators will refer to aerial maps and evidence prepared by the DNP and DSI to ensure no state land on Koh Lipe is encroached upon by private entrepreneurs.

He added that police will also file criminal charges against the real owners of resorts, not nominees who have been hired to register and manage the resorts.

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