Anek Lipracha was initially sentenced to 15 years in jail: 12 years for illegal land occupation, two years for presenting false documents to officials and a further one year for deceiving state officials, the Department of Special Investigation announced in a statement issued yesterday (Sept 27).
However, due to his co-operation with the court, by law his sentence was reduced by one-third.
The Criminal Court handed down the sentence on Wednesday (Sept 25), the DSI noted in its statement. (See here.)
The 93 rai now ordered to be reclaimed by the state is located in Khao Ruak Khao Muang Park
protected forest, which has also been designated as national forest and is located within Sirinath National Park.
The Khao Ruak Khao Muang Park protected forest stretches from the southern end of Nai Yang Beach to the northern end of Layan Beach in Cherng Talay.
The court ruling automatically made void land title deeds 42053, 48252, 48253 and 42054, which were used by Anek to claim the land. The deeds are for land in Tambon Sakoo, the subdistrict immediately south of Phuket International Airport, the DSI also noted.
The sentence handed down followed the DSI launching an investigation following a formal request by the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plants (DNP) on Aug 14, 2012. The DSI preliminary investigation agreed to to investigate the land claim as a special case.
In handing down its decision, the court ruled that Anek had used SorKor 1 land occupancy documents for other parcels of land to apply for full land title deeds be issued for the land. The documents had been falsified to appear to be for the national park land being claimed.
Of note, it was not mentioned whether Anek had already or intended to appeal the decision.
It was also not mentioned whether any structures has already been built on the land.
In June 2016, the Phuket Provincial Court sentenced four Thai nationals to eight to 14 years in jail for their part in obtaining illegal titles to possess protected state land in Phuket with an estimated value of B15 billion.
That case involved five instances of encroachment covering prime beachfront land in the Khao Ruak Khao Muang Park national forest and Sirinath National Park. The land in question spanned parts of Moo 2 and Moo 3 in Sakoo subdistrict, south of the airport.
The four handed down jail terms were also fined B9 million each. (See story here.)
Just six months earlier, in December 2015, the DSI announced that 96 rai of land valued at B2.49bn was to be reclaimed from two of seven cases of encroachment under investigation.
The land reclaimed was in in Moo 3 of Sakoo subdistirct, again located in the Khao Ruak Khao Muang Park national forest and Sirinath National Park.
“The land belonged to two men named Tee Naknam and Gown Naknam. They lived and planted some rubber trees on the land which covers an area of 96 rai and is located behind the abandoned Peninsula Hotel,” explained Chief of the DSI’s Consumer and Environment Protection Division Lt Col Prawut Wongseenil at the time.
“The owners upgraded their SorKor 1 land documents to two Chanotes on June 2, 2009. However, what we found was that they used the ‘flying SorKor 1’ to get the Chanote.
“We also discovered that the SorKor 1 used to obtain the Chanotes was forged. After comparing the original SorKor 1 to the Chanotes we found that the signature for the approval officer at that time and the official seals did not match.
“We received confirmation from the Central Institute of Forensic Science that the SorKor 1 used was a duplicate from the original. The family that owned the original Sor Kor have confirmed this,” he said (See story here.)
Of note is that no officials have ever been found guilty of any roles in the national park land being acquired.
Also of note is that the land claimed by Anek is not among the 178 rai of land stretching three kilomteres along the Layan and Leypang beachfronts further south, valued at more than B10bn, that the government is still trying evict occupants from despite a Supreme Court order to vacate the land. (See stories here, here, here and here.)