Thai court accepts encroachment case against Deputy Education Minister

The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases (Region 2) in Rayong province accepted a land encroachment case today (Friday), against Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which investigated the case, said it had sufficient evidence to press the charges against her and nine other people, including her father and some land and forestry officials, in connection with three plots of land in the Khao Yai National Park in Prachin Buri province.

The officials are accused of helping Kanokwan and her father, Sunthorn, mayor of the Prachin Buri provincial administrative organisation (PAO), obtain title deeds for the land in question in 2002.  Both claimed that the land they bought had already been developed, but an aerial mapping survey, conducted a year after the issuance of the deeds, found the land was still covered with thick forest.

The investigation into the alleged encroachment was launched two years ago, after three backhoes were seen clearing the land.

After accepting the case, the court granted the temporary release of Kanokwan and scheduled the first hearing in the case for August 5th.

Kanokwan was also found to have allegedly committed ethical misconduct by the NACC, which plans to take the case to the Supreme Court for Holders of Political Office.

Arrest warrants have been issued for her father, Sunthorn, and three other suspects who have, so far, failed to report to public prosecutors.

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