Former Pattaya mayor faces arrest, 10 years in jail for illegal building permit

Former Pattaya mayor Itthipol Khunpluem. Photo courtesy of Khaosod.

An arrest warrant was issued yesterday for Itthipol Khunpluem, a former Culture Minister and ex-mayor of Pattaya, by the Corruption and Misconduct Case Court (Region 2) in Rayong. Itthipol is accused of misconduct related to granting a building permit to a company on September 10, 2008, for the Waterfront project near the hill of the royal palace in Pattaya, Chon Buri.

This building permit is allegedly in violation of the law, sparking an investigation under the Criminal Code, Section 157, reported Khaosod.

The court’s action came after Itthipol failed to appear for a scheduled indictment on September 4. The Office of the Attorney General of the Corruption and Misconduct Case Office (Region 2) had summoned him.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, acting as the complainant, then requested the court to issue an arrest warrant to bring him to court. The court considered that the defendant knew of the summons but did not appear, indicating evasion, and thus issued the arrest warrant on September 5.

For malfeasance under the Criminal Code, Section 157, the punishment is imprisonment of one to ten years. The statute of limitations is 15 years under Section 95(2). The case will reach its statute of limitations this Sunday, September 10.

The issue of illicit building permitting has been thrust into the spotlight lately after the Ashton Asoke debacle in Bangkok. The massive condominium has struggled with threats of closure or demolition after its building permits were revoked due to insufficient exit points.

Srisuwan Janya, a prominent whistleblower, addressed a letter to the governor of Bangkok, seeking a comprehensive inquiry into the officials of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) who were entangled in the sanctioning of building permits for the troubled Ashton Asoke condominium project.

In other related building scandal news, a Thai tycoon, Prayudh Mahagitsiri, faces a two-year and eight-month prison sentence with a charge linked to an infamous land encroachment scandal.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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