Pareena insists she is honest, asks court for mercy
Defiant MP Pareena Kraikupt on Thursday insisted she had done nothing wrong, despite an anti-graft agency finding her guilty of serious ethical misconduct over land encroachment.
Ms Pareena, the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Ratchaburi, took to Facebook to defend her right to occupy the disputed land, saying she had bought it from other farmers and paid all due taxes.
"I have been making an honest living by raising poultry openly and legally and paid taxes,'' she posted.
"When the NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission] forwards the case to the court, it is up to the court to decide whether to suspend me from work temporarily. Therefore, I appeal for mercy from the court."
NACC spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said on Wednesday that Ms Pareena had committed acts amounting to gross misconduct as a lawmaker, a criminal offence under a revised NACC law.
She is the first parliamentarian to be judged guilty by the NACC of the new charge.
The NACC said Ms Pareena had failed to comply with laws and regulations governing the conservation of nature and natural resources, which are of national interest, while at the same time portraying herself as a law-abiding citizen.
As such, the MP had violated the standard of ethics expected of a lawmaker, it said.
The NACC will now forward the case directly to the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Political Office Holders without the need to go through prosecutors.
The law says that if and when the court agrees to hear the case, Ms Pareena will be suspended as an MP until it has delivered its ruling, since she would not be able to exercise parliamentary immunity during that time.
If she is found guilty, she will be stripped of her MP status and banned from holding political office for life.
Ms Pareena's troubles began when Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a former senator, asked the authorities to inspect her 711 rai (113 hectare) poultry farm in Ratchaburi's Chom Bung district.
Mr Niwatchai said yesterday the disputed land was formerly forest tracts before being designated as Sor Por Kor land so it could be distributed to poor and landless farmers to plant crops.
An NACC inquiry panel believed, however, Ms Pareena was not a poor farmer when she became an MP on May 25, 2019, Mr Niwatchai said.
Meanwhile, NACC secretary-general Warawit Sukboon also said an NACC inquiry panel would soon wrap up its inquiry into claims Ms Pareena made a false assets declaration.
The commission does not believe she extended a personal loan of 7.7 million baht to a certain individual. Nor was it convinced a Buddha amulet she supposedly obtained from her former husband was worth 2.5 million baht.
The commission also questioned how much land she owned in her native province and suspects it was much more than she had declared.