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Kanokwan granted bail on Khao Yai encroachment

Kanokwan granted bail on Khao Yai encroachment

BANGKOK: The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases approved a bail request for Deputy Minister of Education Kanokwan Vilawan after public prosecutors submitted her case to the court on Friday (June 10).

By Bangkok Post

Saturday 11 June 2022, 09:18AM

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) took Ms Kanokwan to the court’s Region 2 office in Muang district of Rayong province after she reported to the office on Friday to hear charges of alleged illegal occupation of land in Khao Yai National Park, reports the Bangkok Post.

The court agreed to grant her bail with no conditions after she had deposited B300,000 in cash and land title deeds as surety, Thai News Agency reported.

The OAG decided to indict her and nine other people, including her father Soonthorn, on Tuesday after the National Anti-Corruption Commission had found sufficient evidence to take legal action against them on issuing and using three false land title deeds to control three plots of land in the park in Prachin Buri, her home province.

Two of the three plots encompass 54 rai of land inside Khao Yai.

The court will summon her for questioning on Aug 5.

The status of the nine other accused was unclear.

Ms Kanokwan is a deputy secretary-general of the coalition Bhumjaithai Party. Her father is the head of the Prachin Buri Provincial Administration Organisation. Both were former MPs in the central province.

The deputy minister, her husband and their close aide Nui Toomphan illegally seized the plots of land since 2002, with assistance from seven others.

The case was known after soldiers of the Internal Security Operations Command seized three backhoes working in the areas in 2020 and later found out that the plots of land were located in the park.

10,000 RAI

Police on Friday said the family is believed to be responsible for encroaching on some 10,000 rai at the world heritage-inscribed Khao Yai National Park, Bangkok Post reported.

However further investigation is required to learn more details, said Col Pongphet Ketsupa, commander of an operation team of Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).

He said his team is working closely with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) to scrutinise areas that are thought to be illegally occupied, especially in Prachin Buri after other examples of encroachment were recently found there.

Devas Lounge

An initial probe determined that around 10,000 rai of land in Khao Yai had been encroached upon but the land owners have not yet been confirmed, he said.

“We believe the politician’s family in Prachin Buri illegally occupied more land inside the forest. Our team is working hard to clear this up,” he said, adding the support of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has helped facilitate the investigation.

The NACC concluded on Tuesday (June 7) there were sufficient grounds to launch legal action against Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, her father Soonthorn and eight other individuals for illegally occupying 150 rai in the national park.

According to Col Pongphet, his team found the politician’s family began illegally encroaching on the national park in 2017, when the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation filed a complaint against them. But no progress was made in the case.

In 2020, the team found another 24 rai appeared to have been illegally issued to the same family. The case was sent to the Office of the Attorney-General for consideration.

Ms Kanokwan and her father claimed they purchased the land from its previous owners, but the NACC found the plots in question had never previously been used. The NACC concluded the family had colluded with government officials to illegally obtain the title deeds.

The Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) decided on Tuesday to indict 10 suspects in the matter and said it would forward the cases to the Region 2 office of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

Four of the other suspects are Jeerasak Pholsuk, who once served as director of the Land Deed Surveying Centre in Saraburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi and Sa Kaeo provinces; Surang Kantarom, who once served as the survey director, Somsak Heeb-ngern who once performed the duties of surveying supervisor; and Phanphen Phakhayat, who acted as a land title investigator.

The remaining suspects are Prathan Banchuen, who formerly served as a land survey director; Tawee Muensri, a former village headman in tambon Noen Hom; Noi Tumphan, who was a survey leader; and Kanit Petchpradab, who used to be a surveyor under the Royal Forest Department.

As of Thursday, neither Ms Surang, Mr Somsak, Ms Kanokwan, Mr Soonthorn, Ms Noi nor Mr Kanit had presented themselves to prosecutors, prompting the issuing of arrest warrants.

Ms Kanokwan appeared before the prosecutor on Friday but her father has not reported himself to the OAG.

Officers from the Anti-Corruption Division and the Crime Suppression Division have joined forces to find Mr Soonthorn and the other remaining suspects before the charge expires on Monday.

DNP Director-General Ratchada Suriyakul na Ayutthaya said he has instructed officials to scrutinise the Land Department.

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BigaAResort | 12 June 2022 - 08:33:22

There is only one logic thing to do,if you can fight them ,JOIN them ! Horst

Kurt | 11 June 2022 - 17:48:44

Officials not serving the Kingdom Thailand but betraying country & people, fill own pockets should be stripped of uniforms, medals, decorations and pension rights before serving a long term in prison. If,..if Thailand want to fight corruption start sweeping staircase from the top. But don't expect that ever will happen in Thailand.

Kurt | 11 June 2022 - 15:43:10

Quite a large group of high ranking Thai Government Officials who infact are criminals. How is it possible this criminals such a long time were able to commit crimes. Sure this is not the only case. With a bit digging more will be found. Why should the charge expire on Monday? To give them chance to escape court/conviction/prison?

Paddy | 11 June 2022 - 11:49:56

Land title deeds for surety , ha, ha. Was the ink dry on them .


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