The Supreme Court has banned former deputy education minister Kanokwan Vilawan from elected office for life, with a 10-year ban on political activities, for forest encroachment.
The court read out its ruling on Wednesday in response to a petition from the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which had accused the Bhumjaithai Party MP of serious ethical misconduct.
The NACC in June accused Kanokwan, her father Soonthorn Vilawan and eight others of illegally occupying about 150 rai of land in Khao Yai National Park.
Kanokwan is a deputy secretary-general of the Bhumjaithai Party and her father is the head of the Prachin Buri Provincial Administration Organisation.
The accused were found to have occupied three sites with fake title deeds issued two decades ago by Land Department officials.
The NACC earlier told the court that on Feb 14, 2002, Kanokwan sought a title deed for a 30-rai land plot in the Khao Yai forest. She claimed she had bought it from a Mr Thiew Malison in 1990, but the purported seller did not exist.
She obtained the title deed for the land in tambon Noen Hom of Muang district in Prachin Buri province.
The land occupation was illegal and caused considerable damage, the NACC said, and Kanokwan continued to hold the land until she became a deputy education minister in July 2019 in the government of Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The court accepted the case from the anti-graft panel for trial on Aug 26 last year and suspended Kanokwan from her cabinet minister’s responsibilities.
On Wednesday it concluded that Kanokwan had committed serious ethical misconduct and announced its penalties.