Boontham is reportedly a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino and is often described as a property developer. He is aged 65.
With Setthawut Pengdit is accused of lese majeste in a land deal involving a connection to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s housecleaning following his separation from third wife Srirasmi late last year.
PPT thinks he 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.
The lese majeste charges came after some 50 residents of the Lamtakong self-help settlement in the Pak Chong district accused the men of land grabbing, saying they were building a royal palace. The deeds were allegedly for some 700 rai of land in Pak Chong, transferred to Ban Chum Thong Co and Khaoyai Beverly Hill Co. That land is said to have belonged to an army infantry unit and that the unit had “loaned” the land to farmers and issued Nor Kor 3 usage documents to the residents.
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. Parts of the land were reported to “overlap” a military area and other bits “were reserved as headwaters for streams, not eligible for inclusion on a title deed.”
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 was denied bail – the usual decision by the royalist courts – saying he was a “flight risk” – also the usual claim by the courts. He reportedly admitted to buying the land to resell it at a profit, but denied using the monarchy’s name.
Setthawut was sentenced on 14 May 2015. He got 5 years, halved for his guilty plea and “confession.” In Settawut’s sentencing, the court dropped the case against Boontham and recommended the prosecution file a separate charge against him. It is unclear if this is a different charge or another lese majeste charge.
When sentenced, his 16 years was reduced to 12 years because of “useful testimony.” Boontham is considering an appeal.
Media accounts of Boontham’s case:
Bangkok Post, 5 April 2016: “Property dealer jailed 12 years for lese majeste”
Prachatai, 14 May 2015: “Court jails man 2.5 years for falsely claiming about monarchy related to land encroachment”
Thai PBS, 14 May 2015: “Brother of former DSI chief sentenced to 2 years and 6 months on lese majeste charge”
The Nation, 1 March 2015: “Property man Boontham held over lese majeste”
Bangkok Post, 20 February 2015: “Tarit’s brother reports over lese majeste“