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DSI says enough evidence, testimony to pursue case of vanished Karen activist “Billy”

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PHOTO: Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson, former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park and Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation has announced it will challenge prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against 4 men allegedly involved in the presumed murder of a Karen land rights activist. Department director Korawat Panprapakorn said there is sufficient evidence and eyewitness testimony to press murder charges against the 4, including the former chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, for the abduction of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in 2014. He was never seen again.

“After receiving the decision from the prosecutors, we went through all the evidence, including eyewitness accounts, material evidence, forensic evidence, as well as comments from experts, and found that we can’t agree with the prosecutors’ decision. We will forward our comments to the AG.”

The 4 men were charged in 2019 of 7 offences, including premeditated murder and concealing the body of Porlajee, the activist who disappeared in 2014. The DSI said in 2019 they’d discovered what appeared to be Porlajee’s remains.

But the Office of the Attorney General dropped all major charges against the suspects, citing insufficient evidence linking them to the alleged murder. Only lesser offences of negligence and conspiracy were included in the indictment.

Under Thai law, both prosecutors and police investigators must agree on dropping the charges.

Activists have accused then-director Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn of engineering the disappearance of Porlajee, who had been campaigning for the rights of Karen villagers to settle in disputed parts of the national park before he went missing.

Despite the serious accusations, Chaiwat and his aides were never sent to prison, since they were released on bail.

Chaiwat is currently serving as the director of a conservation office in Isaan’s Udon Thani province.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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