July 10, 2012 00:00
By PIYANUCH THAMNUKASETCHAI,
Suthep's son insists he is not encroaching on state land, claims issue is politicised
Tan Thaugsuban, son of Democrat MP Suthep, yesterday submitted to the Department of Special Investigation evidence related to his alleged involvement in land encroachment on Khao Phaeng, a mountain on Surat Thani province’s Samui Island.
“We have not politicised this issue. Nothing is related to politics,” DSI chief Tarit Pengdith insisted after Tan showed land-ownership documents to investigators at the department’s headquarters.
Tarit said the DSI had been investigating Tan’s case since the previous government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva. Additionally, DSI's committees had agreed to take this issue as a special case for conduct an investigation.
On Sunday, Tan claimed at a news conference that his land was not within a forest reserve.
Tan earlier accused the DSI of politicising the issue to discredit him and his father, who he said was now considered an enemy by the DSI and was an arch-rival of the Pheu Thai Party, which now leads the government.
He insisted that all five of his plots were 3 kilometres from Khao Phaeng, which was a reserved area, and 1km outside the ring road around the island.
Tan yesterday went to DSI headquarters with his lawyer to hear the allegations of encroachment from DSI deputy director-general Pol Colonel Prawes Pramulmuk, who chairs the investigation team, and Pol Lt-Colonel Pravuth Wongsrinil, the chief of the Consumer and Environment Bureau, who was assigned as an investigator for the case.
Tan said after his meeting with the DSI that his land plots were not inside forest reserve areas.
He said he would provide documents demonstrating his lawful ownership of the land to the DSI and would cooperate with the agency over the investigation.
Regarding a separate allegation that the Land Department had issued him a Nor Sor 3 Kor title deed for another 14 rai (2.25 hectares) in forest reserve areas, Tan said it was a mistake by the department.
‘THE LAND IS ON A SLOPE’
Pravuth said that even though Tan’s plots were not inside a forest reserve, the land sloped more than 35 degrees. Individuals are not allowed to occupy such land.
“Tan admitted that it was his misunderstanding that these lands could be occupied and that land-ownership documents could be issued,” he said.
The DSI will take legal action against Tan if it finds that the amount of land he now possesses exceeds the amount indicated on the Nor Sor 3 title deeds, the official said.
Since 2006, the DSI has taken legal action in 11 cases involving 465 rai in forest reserve areas, worth Bt2 billion.
“We do not discriminate against anyone. Everybody is subject to the same process,” Pravuth said.