The Royal Forest Department (RFD) is poised to lodge a police complaint against Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP Pareena Kraikupt over her alleged encroachment on 682 rai of forest land.
The department on Wednesday began officially inspecting the plot in Ratchaburi's Chom Bung district and has decided to file a police complaint once the process is completed, RFD director-general Atthaphon Charoenchansa said.
The move came after the Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body, ruled on Tuesday the RFD alone has the authority to take legal against Ms Pareena in this case.
The council was asked to rule on whether it is the RFD or the Agricultural Land Reform Office that actually has the authority to handle this encroachment case. Both agencies had previously said the case was beyond their jurisdiction.
Ms Pareena stands to face charges for violating three laws, namely the Land Act, the 1941 Forest Act and the National Reserve Forest Act, Mr Atthaphon said.
“From now on we will go full steam ahead [on this alleged land-encroachment case],” he said.
Chiwaphap Chiwatham, director of the Forest Protection and Fire Control Bureau who is in charge of the RFD committee pursuing legal action against Ms Pareena in this case, said the Council of State’s ruling made the department feel more confident about moving ahead with its action.
The inspection and survey of the land is expected to take two days to complete, he said.
Ms Pareena, meanwhile, declined to comment on the council's ruling, saying only that PPRP's lawyer, Thotsaphon Phengsom, will handle all questions related to the matter on her behalf.
Separately, Atchariya Ruangrattanapong, chairman of the crime victims’ assistance club, is helping a family file a petition with the Ratchaburi court demanding that Thawee Kraikupt be evicted from a 23-rai plot of forest land that the family has been occupying since 1974.
Mr Thawee is a former deputy transport minister and Ms Pareena's father.
This plot belongs to the RFD and the unnamed family of three, a father and two daughters, who have legal rights to use it for agricultural purposes, said Prani Nampha, one of the daughters.
Mr Thawee recently took over the plot, planted coconut trees over more than 500 rai and erected a fence around it as if he owns the land, said Uthai Suwannuek, a lawyer representing the family.