Former Democrat heavyweight Suthep Thuagsuban's son and former secretary were on Wednesday sentenced to three years' imprisonment by the Criminal Court after they were found guilty of forest encroachment on Koh Samui island.
Two other accomplices Pongchai Fathaweeporn, manager of Ruang Panya construction firm, and Samart Ruangsri, a land broker and partner of Ruang Panya construction firm � were also found guilty of encroachment at Khao Paeng on Koh Samui and given five years' jailterm each.
The four men who include Taen Thuagsuban and Bancherd Laopiyasakul, were charged by the public prosecutor of conspiring to cut down trees at Khao Paeng and to seize control of the forest land totaling altogether 45 rai. The encroachment took place during September 2000-October 2001. A reservoir was also built on the land without permission. The four men denied the charges and fought the case.
In handing down the conviction verdict, the court said that forest are vital natural resources and valuable treasure of the state that the public should protect and preserve for mutual interests and should not be claimed by any individuals as their personal property.
The four defendants' illegal acts have impacts on the environment directly and indirectly, resulting in drought and flooding, said the court, adding that their offences are serious and there are no reasons to suspend their jailterms.
The court also ordered their eviction and the others from the land in question.
The court later granted them bails but barred them from leaving the country unless with the court's permission pending an appeal to higher court.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)