Former Pheu Thai leader gets 2 years in Alpine land case

Former Pheu Thai leader gets 2 years in Alpine land case

Former Pheu Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit arrives at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Tuesday. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison for approving the sale of monastic land for development as the Alpine golf course 15 years ago when he was acting permanent secretary of the interior. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Former Pheu Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit arrives at the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Tuesday. He was sentenced to 2 years in prison for approving the sale of monastic land for development as the Alpine golf course 15 years ago when he was acting permanent secretary of the interior. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Former Pheu Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit has been sentenced to 2 years in jail for illegally approving the sale of monastic land for the Alpine golf course in Pathum Thani 15 years ago.

At the time Mr Yongyuth was a deputy permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry, serving as acting permanent secretary.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases handed down the ruling on Tuesday.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which investigated the case, found him at fault for approving the sale 732 rai of land owned by Wat Thammikaram to privately owned Alpine Real Estate Co and Alpine Golf & Sports Club in 2002. It asked that he be prosecuted.

Mr Yongyuth was found guilty of dereliction of duty  under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and of serious disciplinary violations. He was sentenced to two years in prison, without suspension. 

After hearing the ruling Mr Yongyuth refused to answer any questions from the media. His eyes appeared very bloodshot.

The court approved his temporary release on bail with 500,000 baht surety, pending appeal. He was barred from travelling abroad and must report to the court every 30 days.

The land  in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district was donated by a widow, Noem Chamnanchartsakda, to Wat Dhammamikaramvoraviharn in Prachuap Khiri Khan in 1971.

After her death the Mahamongkut Ratchawittayalai Foundation was appointed executor of the estate. The foundation  sold the land  to Alpine Real Estate and Alpine Golf and Sports Club.

The Council of State, the government's legal advisory body, later issued an opinion that it was monastic land its sale was illegal, and the Land Department cancelled the sale.

Mr Yongyuth overruled the Land Department’s order.

A long-running scandal surrounded the sale of the land and its subsequent development as a golf course and sporting club, and involved leading political figures of the time, including former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and former interior minister Snoh Thienthong.


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