The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday to ban Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt from politics for life over her use of land in a forest reserve in her home province of Ratchaburi.
The court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions said she had severely violated political ethics as an MP by her possession of state land, which posed a conflict between personal and the public interest.
The ruling means she cannot run for political office at any level, national or local. She is also banned from voting in any election for 10 years, the court said.
The ruling was applied from March 25 last year, when she was suspended by the court from all House activities pending a final ruling, which was delivered on Thursday.
Her suspension was proposed to the court by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
Problems surrounding Ms Pareena’s use of land in Ratchaburi came to light in November 2019, when Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a then-member of the since dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party, petitioned authorities to inspect the MP’s 665-rai poultry farm in Chom Bung district.
The Royal Forest Department then investigated and surveyed the land. It concluded that her farm encroached on public land. It then asked the NACC to take action against her.
The land under her control was reform land, which is allocated to landless people but remains reserved forest land.
Ms Pareena did not attend the court on Thursday and was represented by her lawyer Thiwa Karnkrasang.
The ruling means a by-election must be held for her House seat in constituency 3 in Ratchaburi within 45 days.
The former MP could also face criminal charges in the same case. The Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division forwarded the case to public prosecutors in Ratchaburi in November 2020. A decision on indictment is pending.