Soonthorn Vilawan, the father of Deputy Minister of Education Kanokwan, talks to the media about his alleged land encroachment in Khao Yai National Park on Thursday. (Photo: Manit Sanubboon)
PRACHIN BURI: Soonthorn Vilawan, the father of Deputy Minister of Education Kanokwan, has determined a court fight against charges related to the illegal land occupation in Khao Yai National Park.
“I will put up a good fight in accordance with law,” Mr Soonthorn said on Thursday, the first time since he surrendered to police on Tuesday and got bail from the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Region 2 in Rayong province the same day.
Mr Soonthorn and nine other people, including his daughter Kanokwan, have been charged by public prosecutors for illegally occupying plots of land in the national park in Muang district of the central province.
The allegations were made after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had found sufficient grounds to take legal action against them. The NACC’s investigation found three land title deeds owned and issued by the suspects were false.
Mr Soonthorn, 83, was an eight-time MP for Prachin Buri and served as deputy minister of public healthduring the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration, which lasted from November 1996-November 1997 before turning to local politics.
He said he decided to purchase the land in 2002 because of evidence showing the plots were not part of Khao Yai.
“I am a tree lover and I love nature,” he said, referring to the decision to purchase the land.
Despite being indicted by public prosecutors, the Interior Ministry has yet to strip him of the PAO chief position in Prachin Buri.
Sutthiphong Chulcharoen, permanent secretary for interior affairs, said the province is still waiting for the investigation documents from the NACC to be used to decide whether Mr Soonthorn should be dismissed from the post.
The final decision will be made by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.