16 year sentence in palace lese majeste case

5 04 2016

The Criminal Court has sentenced a “property dealer” to 16 years imprisonment on lese majeste charges. Boontham Boonthepprathan, 65, was reduced by 4 years, to 12 years, for his “useful testimony during the trial.”

He was “charged with causing damage to the monarchy … in connection with his request for title deeds to several hundred rai [700 rai] of land in Khao Nong Chuam area in tambon Khanong Phra of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district during 2007-2008.”

Some parts of the land belonged to the military area and some “were reserved as headwaters for streams, not eligible for inclusion on a title deed.”

It was claimed that “Boontham allegedly claimed he had a good connection with Pol Lt Gen Pongpat Chayapan, a former Central Investigation Bureau commissioner, close to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s palace when the prince was married to the Princess Srirasmi.

Boontham is said to have “cited the royal institution [we assume this means the prince or Srirasmi or both] to persuade Setthawut Pengdit, another “land broker and younger brother of former Department of Investigation chief Tarit Pengdith, to collude with him in applying for land title deeds.”

Boontham Thepprathan was accused of lese majeste in February 2015 and arrested by police on 27 February 2015. He is  reportedly a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino and is often described as a property developer.

Boontham joins more than two dozen others accused or convicted of lese majeste in cases related to this royal separation and the purging of the Srirasmi family and associates network.

It appears that this murky deal involved the army, police and “investors” making the land transferable by having the certificates illegally changed to “title deeds” without telling the residents. It is reported that Setthawut had made a “false” claim to land officials, using the name of former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, that the land would be used for a palace.

It is quite a believable scenario that farmers would lose their land to “investors.” It is also conceivable that land could be acquired for a “palace;” this has happened before. That the Army and police would be involved in such deals is quite normal in rural Thailand.

Boontham is reportedly considering an appeal. Given the persons involved, that might not be a good idea.


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