Deputy minister, father found to have false title to Khao Yai park land

Deputy minister, father found to have false title to Khao Yai park land

10 accused face land encroachment charges

Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, in pink, during a meeting with parents and the management of Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi, on Sept 29, 2020. (Photo: Pattanapong Chatpattarasill)
Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, in pink, during a meeting with parents and the management of Sarasas Witaed Ratchaphruek School in Nonthaburi, on Sept 29, 2020. (Photo: Pattanapong Chatpattarasill)

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has found grounds for legal action against Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan, her father and eight others for alleged illegal occupation of land in Khao Yai National Park.

NACC secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said on Thursday that Ms Kanokwan, her father Soonthorn and a woman named Noi Toomphan illegally occupied three blocks of land in the park with false title deeds issued two decades ago by corrupt Lands Department officials.

A village chief and officials of the Royal Forest Department also helped them get the land, he said.

The three areas are inside the park boundary in Muang district of Prachin Buri province and have been occupied by the three suspects since 2002. Two of the false title deeds account for a combined 54 rai of land.The size of the third block was not disclosed.

Ms Kanokwan is a deputy secretary-general of the Bhumjaithai Party and her father is the head of the Prachin Buri Provincial Administration Organisation. No details were released about Ms Noi. 

Mr Niwatchai said the three people claimed they had bought the land from previous owners. But the NACC found out that the land had never been used previously for any purpose and was fertile forest inside the park. An aerial survey had confirmed the agency's findings.

The NACC investigators concluded that the three people had colluded with government officials in obtaining the three forged land title deeds.

"We have scientific evidence to confirm that the areas were lush forest within Khao Yai," the NACC chief said.

The NACC did not say when it made its decision, or when the case was sent to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) with a recommendation to take action. It decided to make the matter public on Thursday,  only after it had been widely reported in Thai media.

Mr Niwatchai said the OAG decided on Tuesday to indict 10 suspects on criminal charges in the matter, and would forward the cases to the Region 2 office of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

The accused were given until Thursday to report to the OAG and would face arrest warrants if they ignored the deadline, he added.

The NACC would also forward the case to the Supreme Court, asking that it strip those suspects who hold political positions of their posts.

Mr Niwatchai was not more specific, but was apparently referring to Ms Kanokwan and her father.

"They are in serious breach of ethical standards," he said.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (20)

Hong Kong football fans boo Chinese anthem

HONG KONG: Football fans in Hong Kong were heard booing China’s national anthem on Saturday at the first match open to spectators in the city since legislation outlawing the practice was passed more than two years ago.

22:16

Death toll doubles in Iran protest crackdown

The official death toll has nearly doubled to 35 in a crackdown by Iran’s security forces on more than a week of protests that erupted after the death of a young woman in custody.

21:45

Russia sacks top general in charge of logistics

KYIV: Moscow replaced its top logistics general on Saturday after a series of setbacks as Kremlin-held regions of eastern and southern Ukraine voted for a second day on becoming part of Russia.

21:25