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Sites scoured for fugitive politician

BANGKOK: The hunt for the missing president of the Prachin Buri Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO), accused of forest encroachment, stepped up yesterday (June 12) with police scouring multiple locations in the province.

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By Bangkok Post

Monday 13 June 2022, 09:50AM


Police from the Central Investigation Bureau search a house in Muang district of Prachin Buri province for Soonthorn Vilawan, the father of Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan. He is on an arrest warrant after failing to report to public prosecutors to hear changes on land encroachment at Khao Yai National Park. Photo: Central Investigation Bureau

Police from the Central Investigation Bureau search a house in Muang district of Prachin Buri province for Soonthorn Vilawan, the father of Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan. He is on an arrest warrant after failing to report to public prosecutors to hear changes on land encroachment at Khao Yai National Park. Photo: Central Investigation Bureau

Soonthorn Vilawan, who is also father of Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, has been on the run after being charged with forest encroachment.

The pair are two of 10 suspects accused by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of illegally occupying 150 rai of land in Prachin Buri’s Khao Yai National Park.

All suspects were required to present themselves to court on Thursday, but four of them, including Mr Soonthorn, failed to comply, leading to the court issuing warrants for their arrest, reports the Bangkok Post.

The three others are former Department of Lands officials Surang Kantarom, Somsak Heeb-ngern and former Royal Forest Department official Kanit Petchpradab.

Mr Soonthorn, who faces multiple charges including “backing officials to run a land occupation dishonestly that caused damage to government agencies”, is still on the run, according to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB).

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Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, CIB commissioner, said law enforcement agents have investigated five spots across Prachin Buri, among them Ms Kanokwan’s house, Mr Soonthorn’s office, a hotel and the home of a local politician.

A source said Mr Soonthorn was last seen with Chanchai Jindasathaporn, vice president of the PAO, while attending a ceremony at the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel in Bangkok on Thursday, the day the former was supposed to present himself to prosecutors in court.

Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, NACC secretary-general, said Mr Soonthorn’s case is set to expire today due to the 20-year statute of limitations running out. The crime was first committed in 2002, he said.

The NACC obtained the case file from police in 2020, Mr Niwatchai said, adding the NACC has been working with police to track down Mr Soonthorn.

When the case expires, the anti-corruption agency will consider discharging Mr Soonthorn from his current position.

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Capricornball | 14 June 2022 - 11:23:37

@ JohnC - No

JohnC | 14 June 2022 - 09:35:22

Silly question maybe but, does Thailand have ANY honest officials in any government department?

Fascinated | 13 June 2022 - 12:25:32

If someone is OTR the statute should go into abeyance- how 'convenient' he disappeared the day before. If I go and hide 2 days before my offence is due to expire does that mean I can walk free as well a week after. 20 years to prosecute just reeks of corruption. Crazy Thailand.

 

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