Phuket developer hits back at sea gypsies with B31mn lawsuit

PHUKET: Baron World Trade Co Ltd, the Phuket developer embroiled in a dispute with sea gypsies in Rawai over beachfront land on which the indigenous people’s sacred “Balai” shrine is located, has filed a suit against the sea gypsies for B31 million in damages.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Friday 10 March 2017, 06:16PM

Sea gypsies clashed with workers at the Rawai sea gypsy community on Jan 27 last year. Photo: PR Dept

Sea gypsies clashed with workers at the Rawai sea gypsy community on Jan 27 last year. Photo: PR Dept

The lawsuit was filed as a counter-claim against four of the villagers filing a claim of B500,000 in damages against Baron World Trade.

Pasit Thavornlamlert, the lawyer defending the sea gypsies in the claim, revealed the news today (Mar 10) at Phuket Provincial Court, where he was successful in having an injunction issued preventing Baron World Trade from doing any work at the site until the court has ruled on the case.

“The defendant (Baron World Trade Co Ltd) told the court they will not use the area and will not hurt or make any action that will start a conflict with the sea gypsies until the case has been judged,” Mr Pasit said.

Baron World trade is the “defendant” in the claim for damages totalling B500,000 filed by Nuengruethai Raknawa and three other sea gypsies on June 14 last year.

In response, Baron World Trade filed it s own claim for damages totalling B31mn.

“The court will hear witness testimonies for both claims on June 7-9,” Mr Pasit confirmed.

The ongoing dispute with Baron World Trade is over land where the sea gypsies’ sacred Balai shrine is located. Tensions flared on May 25, when more than 200 sea gypsy villagers confronted 50 workers who arrived with a backhoe and began moving boulders into place to block access to the sea gypsies’ sacred Balai shrine, which sits on part of the disputed land.

The confrontation escalated into clashes, with workers and sea gypsies throwing rocks at each other for 30 minutes. The rock fight stopped when Chalong Police arrived with more than 50 officials. (See story here.)

That conflict followed a stand-off between sea gypsies and Baron World Trade construction workers on Jan 27 last year that escalated into violence. (See story here.)



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