Setthawut Pengdit

112Setthawut Pengdit was charged with lese majeste on 19 February 2015. He was convicted on 14 May 2015 and sentenced to 5 years jail, reduced by a half after “confessing” and pleading guilty.

Together with Boontham Thepprathan, a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino, he 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.

The number of lese majeste cases related to this royal separation and the purging of Srirasmi’s family and associates network has seen dozens of people jailed.

Setthawut is a younger brother of former Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdit, and he turned himself in to police after they issued a warrant for his arrest.

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. 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.

While various reports stated that Setthawut used Pongpat’s name, apparently the court found him guilty of the lese majeste charge for claiming a connection with the monarchy and, in this case, the prince and that that claim was to help facilitate the issuance of land title deeds.

On Boontham, who has repeatedly denied the charge, the court dropped the case against him and recommended the prosecution file a separate charge against him. It is unclear if this is a different charge or another lese majeste charge.

Media accounts of Setthawut’s case:

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

Bangkok Post, 20 February 2015: “Tarit’s brother reports over lese majeste

2 responses

1 03 2015
Another princely lese majeste case | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Setthawut Pengdit is accused of lese majeste in a land deal involving a connection to Crown Prince […]

1 03 2015
Another princely lese majeste case | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Setthawut Pengdit is accused of lese majeste in a land deal involving a connection to Crown Prince […]




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