BANGKOK (The Nation): The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Appeals Court verdict and ordered Phuket businessman Charearn Thavornwongwongse to vacate four plots of SorPorKor land for landless farmers covering roughly 16 rai in Kamala and Kathu Districts.
According to the court, K. Charearn could no longer be considered a farmer because he owned various businesses.
He is the Managing Director of Tilok Company, which operates three hotels in Phuket under the Thavorn Group name, including the flagship 150-room Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel in the heart of Phuket City.
Tilok’s other assets in Phuket City include a crocodile farm on Chana Jaroen Rd, originally set up as a tourist attraction but now only raising crocodiles commercially.
K. Charearn, who was not present at the court ruling, has 36 other plots of land covering more than 60 rai, the court noted.
K. Charearn’s lawyer, Benjama Abhaiwongse, said his client would respect the court’s decision, but would ask the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO), the plaintiff in the case, to let him lease the four plots.
K. Benjama said K. Charearn had acquired and used these plots since 1957.
They remained rubber plantations and fruit orchards, he said.
The ALRO has filed several lawsuits to evict wealthy people from SorPorKor land that had been earmarked for agricultural use by landless farmers. There are five cases before the Supreme Court and three others pending at the Court of Appeals.
In a similar ruling on June 7, the Supreme Court ordered Tossaporn Thepabutr and his associates to vacate 98 rai of SorPorKor land near the Kata Viewpoint.
K. Tossaporn, husband of Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) President Anchalee Vanich-Thepabutr, said he accepted the ruling, which he viewed “as the end of a 12-year nightmare” court battle with the ALRO.
After K. Tossaporn and several other businessmen with links to the Democrat Party were found to have been issued rights to use the SorPorKor land in 1994, news of the scandal played a part in the downfall of the coalition government led by then-Democrat Party leader Chuan Leekpai in 1995.
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