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Official faces encroachment charge, American’s home seized in Petchabun

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PHOTOS: truid.net

A senior official of the Office of the PM is facing encroachment charges after the seizure of a house built by an American man near Khao Kho national park in the northern Phetchabun province. Authorities filed a police report following an investigation by a team of forestry officials, soldiers and local authorities at the site on Thursday evening. They were acting on a complaint that a foreign national had illegally built a “luxury home” in a reserved forest area.

Authorities say the site was originally two Ror Or Sor plots — land allocated by the army to defence volunteers who fought communist insurgents 40 years ago. They are not allowed to be sold. Somehow the land ended up in the hands of a forestry official, who sold it to a woman who works in the Office of the Prime Minister. She let an American friend build there.

When the team arrived, they found a resort house and a shed for construction materials. Soon an American man, identified as the house’s owner, arrived along with a Thai man identified as Panya Sawatongkhol. Panya told officials he was authorised by the landowner, Dusita Srichoo, to point out the boundary of the land.

He showed them a letter authorising him to represent the woman and documents related to the land purchase. Panya said Dusita bought the 16 rai plot from a forestry official for 960,000 baht in 2009.

After they inspected the boundary, officials found the land is part of the Phloklon national forest reserve near Khao Kho national park. A further check showed that the plot claimed to be owned Dusita duplicated 2 Ror Or Sor land plots.

Authorities say Dusita is not the original land holder, and that the change of ownership violates a 1998 Cabinet resolution that allocated land to the poor and landless.

As the land was being occupied illegally, officials seized it, saying the forest encroachment caused damage estimated at 1.13 million baht to the state.

A source familiar with the investigation said Dusita is the director of the analysis and foreign affairs coordination division in the Office of the PM. The forestry official from whom she bought the land was identified as Preecha Samart, now director of the Natural Resources and Environment Office in the lower northern Nakhon Sawan province.

Official faces encroachment charge, American's home seized in Petchabun | News by Thaiger Official faces encroachment charge, American's home seized in Petchabun | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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