Suan Kaew charity land dispute ends

A long-running dispute over ownership of temple land in Nonthaburi, involving the title-deed holder, the Suan Kaew Foundation, and the original owner's heirs has ended, with the court returning it to the deceased owner.

The dispute involves a block of land bought by the charity, established by Wat Suan Kaew's respected abbot Phra Payom Kallayano in 1986, from Wantana Suksamrerng.

Ms Wantana had claimed ownership of the land after using it for many years without being challenged by the legal owner, Thongyoo Hiranpradit.

Upon request, as per the law, Ms Wantana had been issued with the title to the land.

In 2010, the foundation bought the land, 1.25 rai, from Ms Wantana for 10 million baht. But when Thongyoo died, her heirs demanded the land back from the temple.

After several hearings and negotiations, the Nonthaburi provincial court withdrew the ownership of Ms Watana and Suan Kaew Foundation, making the late Thongyoo the rightful owner of the land.

Phra Payom Kallayano last week presented the title deed to the director-general of Lands Department, Peerasak Hinmuangkao. He had folded it up as a paper bag like those used by vendors of deep fried bananas.

Mr Peerasak said the department had a long-running dispute with the temple. It stemmed unintentionally from the parties involved in the land ownership. The case defamed the reputation of Phra Payom, but it had ended.

He said if the temple still wanted to use the land for the benefit of the  public there was a possibility that temple laymen might raise funds to buy the land back.

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