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Four jailed, heavily fined for land theft



PHUKET: Four Thais have been convicted for forging land title documents, claiming ownership over more than 400 rai of Sirinath National Park, government officials announced on Wednesday.

The felons face up to 14 years in prison and more than nine million baht each in fines, announced the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) Director-General Thanya Netithammakun. He was joined by Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Deputy Director-General Pong-In Intarakhao.

Mr Thanya estimated each rai of the forged land to be worth 30 million baht.

“We have been working on land encroachment cases in Sirinath National Park and the Khao Ruak-Khao Muang forest reserve areas since 2012,” he said.

The Phuket Provincial Court sentenced Anoma Fangsen to 14 years in prison; Nakorn Wongsrithong to 13 years in prison; and Chan Pongpa to eight years in prison. Another defendant, Prapas Sae-Ong, received two convictions for separate counts. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison and ordered to pay more than 18 million baht in fines.

In 2014, Sirinath National Park Chief Kitiphat Taraphiban filed a complaint with the Tah Chat Chai Police against Mr Nakorn, Mr Chan and Ms Anoma. Mr Kitiphat alleged that the three were attempting to upgrade illegally-issued SorKor 1 documents into land title deeds that encroached on Sirinath land (story here).

“The SorKor 1 documents were submitted to the Thalang Land Office,” Mr Thanya said. “The officers found that the land documents did not match the locations of the title deeds. The documents were sent to the DSI for further investigation. All the documents were found to be fake.”

“The accused did not stop there. They filed a complaint against the Thalang Land Office for not processing their request, and asked the administrative court in Nakhon Sri Thammarat to order the Land Office to issue the title deeds.

They attempted to own the National Park and its protected forest. It has taken a long time, but today the Phuket Provincial Court has finally delivered justice. I am proud that we can reclaim that land for our nation,” he said.

“We are working hard to reclaim land for our country. We will continue to do our job, protecting Thailand’s national treasures. These cases are small compared to the convictions yet to come.”

Col Pong-In said the DSI is currently investigating 10 cases of a similar nature, covering more than 600 rai in Phuket which were the subject of a 2012 raid.

— Chutharat Plerin


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