The Criminal Court on Wednesday handed down jail terms on four people, including a son of former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban, after finding them guilty of forest encroachment at Khao Phaeng in Koh Samui district of Surat Thani province.
Taen Thaugsuban and Bancherd Laopiyakul were each sentenced to three years and Pongchai Fathaweeporn and Samart Ruangsri to five years each, all without suspension.
The case was filed against the four by special cases prosecutors, as proposed by the Department of Special Investigation on Dec 3, 2013.
They were accused of encroaching on Khao Phaeng land in the district in violation of the Forest Act, Land Act and Criminal Code.
The court found that they had used Nor Sor 3 Kor documents to apply for title deeds which covered a larger piece of land than stated in the original land papers, and the extended land was state property. The four also built a weir that blocked a public waterway.
The court ruled the four defendants' actions had directly and indirectly led to environmental changes which could lead to natural disaster.
They were ordered to move their workers and belongings off the land.
All four were later released on bail by the court to fight the case in the Appeal Court on condition that they are not allowed to leave the country without court authorisation.