Lampang villager gets jail time for park encroachment

Lampang villager gets jail time for park encroachment

The Appeal Court yesterday sentenced a 53-year-old Lampang villager to one year in prison and a fine of 400,000 baht plus 7.5% for encroaching on a national park.

The plot she occupied had been set aside for community use by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in 2014.

The court yesterday ordered Wannueng Yawichaipoing to remove all her belongings from the plot in question, which is located in Mae Kwak village in tambon Ban Orn, Ngao district.

Ms Wannueng's legal woes began in 2018, when she was sued by Mae Pong National Park authorities under the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) for illegally occupying a protected forest area and the unlawful possession of a firearm.

The lawsuit was tossed out by Lampang provincial court in December last year. In the previous ruling, the court decided to acquit Ms Wannueng of all charges after Cheewapap Cheewatham, the director of Forest Protection and Fire Control Bureau under the Royal Forestry Department (RFD), told the court that the defendant did not violate national park boundaries, as aerial photographs taken in 1954 showed the land in question had been cleared and lived on before.

In addition, Wisarut Srichan, a rights activist with the civil rights organisation P-Move, also testified in court that Mae Kwak village had been included in the Community Title Deed project -- a campaign launched by the government under the NCPO which was aimed at allocating plots to landless villagers.

The Appeal Court said these mitigating circumstances didn't apply to Ms Wannueng and also overturned her firearms acquittal, saying the hut where a gun was found was unlocked and easily accessible, which posed a danger to others.

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