deputy interior minister Vatana Asavahame was indicted yesterday
on charges of forest encroachment in Phangnga province. The veteran
politician is among 11 suspects charged with trespassing on 8,735
rai of protected forest in Phangnga's Kapong district in 1986 while
he was deputy interior minister.
are Inter-Palm Oil Industries Co and its executives.
denied the charges, which also included encroachment and illegal
clearing and use of forest and forest reserve land. They are accused
of violating the 1964 National Forest Reserves Act and the 1941
the prosecution writ, the suspects had cleared, set fire to and
illegally taken possession of land designated as protected forest
totalling 8,735 rai on the Kao Pai Toh and Kao Sok mountains from
April 1986 to December 2005.
The land included
987 rai of water sources in national forest reserves and 7,748 rai
encroachment damaged the forest, water sources and forest land.
All suspects surrendered to police in September and denied all charges.
The court accepted
the case and set Feb 19 for opening of the trial.
of Special Investigation in August asked the Office of the Attorney-General
to take up the case after the Department of Special Litigation (DSL)
dropped the indictment against Mr Vatana, citing lack of witnesses
The case was
initiated by Tambon Lay Administration Organisation chief Somchai
Thippimol, who complained to the DSL that a group of people and
state officials had encroached on protected forest and forged land
documents in tambons Lay, Thana and Rommanee since 1986.