Part of Pareena's chicken farm seized
RATCHABURI: Officials on Sunday seized part of the land owned by Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP Pareena Kraikupt on suspicion of encroachment on a national reserve.
Officials from the Royal Forest Department, Agricultural Land Reform Office and Interior Ministry based in Ratchaburi used a search warrant approved by the provincial court to search and survey Khao Son Farm in Chom Bung district of the central province.
They decided to seize 40 rai of the 690-rai land plot due to suspicion that it was located in the Pachi River Forest Reserve, sources said.
Royal Forest Department director-general Attapol Charoenchansa indicated that the rest of the area could also be confiscated if it is also found to be situated within the forest reserve. However, the official refused to confirm whether the farm will now be forced to close down.
Khao Son, a chicken farm, is one of several plots totalling 1,700 rai owned by the Ratchaburi MP. Authorities are also in the process of determining whether the other plots also encroach on the forest reserve.
The search was carried out after officials tried to seek permission from the outspoken politician in person at her house in the province, but found nobody home.
Ms Pareena could be fined up to 150,000 baht and/or sentenced to up to 15 years in prison if she is found guilty of illegally occupying more than 25 rai in a national reserve, the officials who asked not to be named said after the search.
The PPRP lawmaker did not comment on Sunday.
However, Ms Pareena earlier insisted the plots were used legally for farming purposes.
The alleged scandal was exposed by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a former member of the dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party, who alleged that parts of her land in Chom Bung are Sor Por Kor land -- a type reserved for land reform purposes and distributed to landless farmers.
The disputed plot appeared on Ms Pareena's list of assets -- totalling 169.7 million baht -- declared to the National Anti Corruption Commission when she became an MP.
Ms Pareena has defended her right to occupy and use the disputed land, citing payment of local Por Bor Thor 5 taxes.