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Navy ramps up push to demolish Phuket beach club

A leading figure in the Royal Thai Navy squad that recently raided the Nui Bay Member Club will face off with Karon Municipality to ask why the club’s buildings are still standing.

The Navy most recently raided the club on May 21.

beach to be cleared in Phuket“I am going to Karon Municipality today [June 5] to see what the delay is,” Lt Sompop Khamkana of Navy’s Third Area Command at Cape Panwa told The Phuket News.

“They already have the authority to demolish them as it has already been established that they were built without a permit.”

Lt Sompop’s visit will pre-empt an official request by the Phuket branch of the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) to have Karon Municipality demolish the buildings.

“Phuket ALRO officers are compiling the request now,” Lt Sompop said.

Officers have confirmed that the club was built on public land, and part of the land has been found to have been acquired through an illegally issued NorSor 3 Gor land title, he added.

The NorSor 3 Gor was found to be based illegally on a “Flying SorKor1”, a basic land occupation paper that had been issued for an entirely different piece of land at nearby Kata Beach.

“The Supreme Court ruled the NorSor 3 Gor invalid in June last year,” Lt Sompop explained. “In March this year, the Phuket Land Office started the process to annul the paper.”

Any officials involved in the issuance of the illegal land title and the construction of the illegal buildings will face legal action, Lt Sompop assured.

“We are focusing on how to return the beach to the public as soon as possible,” he said. “But we have yet to determine whether the local municipality or another government office will be tasked with taking legal action against the club’s owners and any people who conspired with the business, including land officials.”

Which government agencies will be responsible for different aspects of the Nui Bay case will be determined at a meeting at the Navy base at Cape Panwa next week, he said.

Jakkapong Sawadtawee, the club staff member who tried escaping the first raid at the club on February 5 (click here), is now facing prosecution, Lt Sompop confirmed.

Mr Jakkapong attempted to flee the raid in his car. Navy men chased him down in their own car and forced him to stop. In his car, they found a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol and equipment for smoking crystal meth (ya ice).

He has been charged under Section 92 of the Narcotics Act, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a fine of up to B20,000, or both.

“He has also been charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm and for sisting arrest,” Lt Sompop said. Carrying an unlicensed firearm alone can incur a penalty of one to 10 years in jail, a fine of between B2,000 and B20,000, or both.

The club’s owner, Thana ‘Boy’ Chotpanang, is under investigation for allegedly threatening people with a firearm, he added.

The investigation follows local people filing a complaint with police that staff at the club had barred them from walking to the beach unless they paid a fee, and had fired shots to threaten them (click here).

During the Navy task force’s searches of the club, officers found a .40 calibre pistol that was later confirmed to be legally registered to Mr Thana, Lt Sompop explained.

“But the gun type matches with bullet casings we found in the area where people said they were threatened by gunfire. The police is handling this part,” he said.

Phuket News

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