Encroacher sentenced to 10-year stint
The Criminal Court has handed down a 10-year sentence to the prime suspect in a case involving encroachment on 93 rai of land in Sirinat Marine National Park in Phuket province.
The suspect, identified as Anek Lipracha, was found guilty of using false documents to dupe local officials into issuing land title deeds for the coastal area.
The land, however, turned out to be public land belonging to the national park in Thalang district.
The verdict was read by the court on Wednesday and also nullified the title deeds issued in the national park.
"This will save the national park from environmental damage worth 800 million baht," Korrawat Panprapakorn, deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), said on Friday.
The case dates back to 2012 when the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department asked the DSI to look into forest encroachment committed by Anek and seven other suspects.
Mr Anek had used Sor Khor 1 land occupancy documents to ask officials to issue the land title deeds, but an inspection discovered the areas stated on the papers were "different plots of land" to those for which the deeds were issued, according to Pol Lt Col Korrawat.
Aerial photographs found those areas to be parts of the forest, Pol Lt Col Korrawat said.
The court ruled that Anek had violated both the National Reserved Forest Act and the Criminal Code.
Under the laws, the suspect is subject to a 12-year jail term for illegal land occupation. He must also serve two years in prison for using false documents and spend another one year behind bars for deceiving state officials.
Anek stood to receive 15 years' imprisonment in total, but because he admitted to the crime, the court commuted the punishment to 10 years.
The judges also ordered those working for him to leave the areas in question.