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Five to face charges for illegally claiming Phuket national park land



PHUKET: Deputy Director-General of the Land Department Thammasak Chana has publicly vowed to pursue legal action over five cases of attempting to use SorKor 1 land documents to claim 445 rai of land in Phuket’s Sirinath National Park.

In all five cases, the claimants applied for their SorKor 1 documents to be upgraded to full Chanote land titles, Mr Thammasak told the national press on Friday.

“The SorKor 1 documents presented are for five plots that are actually located at the eastern end of the park, but they were being used to claim land at the western end,” he said, referring to the well-known “Flying SorKor 1” method of fraudulently claiming land.

“We have denied the applications. The applicants have the right to appeal, but the next step for us is to have officers from Sirinath National Park file police complaints against the people involved.”

Mr Thammasak did not identify the people who had filed the claims. He also did not specify which charges were to be pursued, such as attempted fraud or providing false information to a government officer conducting an investigation.

The “Flying SorKor 1” remains popular as means of falsely claiming land, as the markings on a SorKor 1 document do not clearly depict the exact location of the plot the document was issued for.

Of note, the method was a key part of the investigation into the assassination of Phuket journalist Wisut “Ae Inside” Tangwitthayaporn, who was shot dead in his car in morning rush-hour traffic on Thepkrasattri Road on January 12. In his final edition of his Inside Phuket magazine, Mr Wisut claimed that “Flying SorKor 1” were used to claim land at Freedom Beach, south of Patong (story here).

However, some of the SorKor 1 documents investigated for plots allegedly in or along the border of Sirinath National Park were deemed to be legal, Mr Thammasak said on Friday.

On July 21, Mr Thammasak explained to Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut that people could claim land within the park, but only if the holders were issued the SorKor 1 documents before the National Park Act was proclaimed in 1964, and if the holders were not compensated for their plots when the government expropriated the land to form the park (story here).

This did not apply in the five cases being pursued, he explained.

Meanwhile, Land Department officials will continue their investigation of 372 plots covering 2,000 rai in Sirinath National Park, Mr Thammasak said.

“We began our investigation on July 21 and we have 60 days to finish it,” he said.

“So far we have confirmed that six landowners have presented legitimate Chanote titles covering 87 rai, but another six claimants who presented Chanote titles for 556 rai are still under investigation.

“If any of these Chanote titles are found to have been illegally issued, we will revoke them.”

— Kritsada Mueanhawong


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