Nightmare day for American man living in Phetchabun province. Resort type house had been built on two land plots awarded following a cabinet resolution in 1998 to two defence forces volunteers who fought the Communist insurgency in Thailand over 40 years ago. The title to the land was only Ror Or Sor meaning, among other things, that it could not be sold on. The investigation launched on Thursday is now to continue following a police complaint filed by the local forestry officer at a nearby police station. A claim for damages related to the development for over ฿1.1 million was also raised.

A middle-aged American man saw the land on which he had built a home seized by officials accompanied by police and soldiers on Thursday when it was found to represent an encroachment of a forestry reserve and an illegal development. The 53-year-old had built a substantial property and adjacent building on a 16 rai plot owned by a Thai woman who is a senior official and division head at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The bad news: American Paul Boehler (left) sits by as officials conduct their investigation at the home he built near Khao Kho national park in Phetchabun this week. Forestry officials deemed that the land was part of the local forestry reserve and that it had been transferred into the ownership of a Thai woman, a friend of Mr Boehler’s, illegally following an investigation into the development on the site.

A 53-year-old American this weekend found himself at the centre of a police complaint, claims for damages and the land on which he had built a luxury home seized by forestry officials in Phetchabun province.

The situation emerged on Thursday evening after Khao Kho forestry officials, accompanied by police and soldiers, descended upon his home on a 16 rai plot of land adjacent to Khao Kho national park.

Man named as 53-year-old American Paul Boehler had built the home on land owned by Thai friend 

The man has been named as 53-year-old Paul Boehler. He built a resort-type house and a building for equipment on the land owned by a friend named as Ms Dusita Srichoo.

Ms Dusita, who works as a senior foreign affairs official at the Office of The Prime Minister, is reported to have bought the property in 2009 for ฿960,000 from another official named as Preecha Samart who is currently the Director of the Natural Resources and Environment Office in Nakhon Sawan province.

Mr Boehler was at the scene as a representative negotiated with forestry officials on Thursday

On Thursday, Mr Boehler arrived at the property shortly after the investigating party of forestry officials. He brought with him a Thai man and interlocutor named as Panya Sawatongkhol.

Mr Panya was authorised to deal with officials and to outline the details and nature, accompanied by official documentation, of Ms Dusita’s ownership of the land.

However, the forestry officials who initiated the investigation after receiving complaints from local people that a foreigner had built a house on lands that were part of the forestry reserve, soon established conclusively that this was the case.

They identified the land in question as the equivalent of two plots of land allocated by the government after 1998 to a Mr Somboon Suwannachart and Yai In-ngarm. 

Their title to the lands was Ror Or Sor meaning that it could not be sold on as well as other conditions attaching to its use as part of the forest reserve.

Plots of land awarded following a cabinet resolution to provide land to the poor and defence volunteers

It is understood that this land within the reserve was distributed following a cabinet resolution in 1998. It was intended for the private use of defence forces volunteers who fought against the Communist insurgency in Thailand over 40 years ago. The purpose of the scheme was to provide land for the poor.

Mr Boehler stood by and observed the proceedings on Thursday as the officials confirmed their position. The development, including his home and the associated building, was deemed illegal.

Based on the conclusion of their deliberations, the land was seized and an estimate of over ฿1.1 million in damages raised on what officials see as encroachment of the forest caused by the building activity on the site.

Complaint filed with local police

Mr Boonsom Totaensombat, the head of the forest protection unit for tambon Khao Kho, was then authorised to file a complaint against the owner of the land, Ms Dusita and others linked with the sale and transfer from its original holders and subsequent development.

This is a normal procedure under Thailand’s strict Forest Reserve Act 1954 and the Forest Act 1941.

Ms Dusita is reported to be the director of a division within the Office of the Prime Minister linked with the analysis and coordination of foreign affairs.

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