Police step up search for minister’s missing father

Police stepped up a search for the missing father of a government minister charged with land encroachment by Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Soonthorn Vilawan, father of Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, is allegedly on the run after failing to turn up in court on Thursday to face charges of forest encroachment.

The NACC told media Thursday the anti-graft watchdog had grounds to charge Kanokwan and her father, Soonthorn, who is President of the Prachin Buri Provincial Administrative Organisation.

The government minister and her father are 2 of 10 suspects accused by the NACC of illegally occupying 150 rai of land in Prachin Buri’s Khao Yai National Park, in central Thailand.

The suspects were supposed to present themselves to court on Thursday but 4 of them failed to show up, including Soonthorn, and former Department of Lands officials Surang Kantarom, Somsak Heeb-ngern, and ex Royal Forest Department official Kanit Petchpradab.

Both Kanokwan and her father claim they bought the title in 2002 from someone who had already developed the land. But an aerial mapping survey, conducted in 2003, showed that the land was still covered with thick forest.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, the Central Investigation Bureau commissioner, says law enforcement agents have stepped up their search of Soonthorn but have failed to locate him. They investigated 5 places across Prachin Buri, among them Kanokwan’s house, Soonthorn’s office, a hotel, and the home of a local politician.

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 he was supposed to be in court.

Soonthorn’s case is set to expire today due to the 20-year statute of limitations running out.

If a statute of limitations expires before a lawsuit is filed, the defendant may raise the statute of limitations as an affirmative defence to seek dismissal of the charge.

SOURCE Bangkok Post

Crime NewsThailand News

Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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