Thai park ranger ‘Chaiwat’ working in civil service despite murder charges

Despite Thai park ranger Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn being accused of murdering Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in western Thailand in 2014, he is still working in the civil service.

According to Section 101 of Thailand’s Civil Service Act (2008), any civil servant with criminal charges pressed against them should be suspended from government service pending the result of the investigation.

In August, Chaiwat and three other national park officials were indicted over the murder of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in 2014 at Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province. The indictment came after the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) found more evidence that Billy was murdered.

The charges filed against the four men include illegal confinement, premeditated murder, and concealing the victim’s body.

Chaiwat is the former Superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park. He was dismissed from the position when he was accused of murder but is somehow working as a civil servant in the position of Director of Conservation Area 9 in northeast Thailand.

Last month, police seized four smuggled tiger cubs in Mukdahan province. Pictured next to a tiger cub is none less than the accused, Chaiwat. Despite being on trial for murder, he was the leader and mastermind behind the protected wildlife seizure.

Yesterday, President of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Association (TLHR) Natthasiri Bergman raised her concerns about Chaiwat’s civil service work with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Natthasiri said the ministry had neglected its duty according to the Civil Service Act (2008) by allowing Chaiwat to work as a civil servant. Moreover, the accused may use his position to tamper with evidence in the ongoing murder case, said Natthasiri.

Karen activist Billy was last seen on April 17, 2014, when he was unlawfully arrested by the then-superintendent of the national park Chaiwat and three other park officials for allegedly collecting wild honey in the forest.

The activist had previously filed a lawsuit against Chaiwat and the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Billy accused Chaiwat of burning houses and evicting 20 Karen families from the national park’s Pong Luk Bang Kloy village in 2011.

Billy was travelling to meet Karen villagers and activists to prepare for an upcoming court hearing in the lawsuit at the time of his disappearance.

Billy’s wife Pinnapa Prueksapan submitted a letter to the DSI to investigate her husband’s disappearance. She explained that Billy assisted villagers in filing a lawsuit against Chaiwat and other park officials, so they might have something to do with his unlawful detention and disappearance.

In 2019, the DSI found bone fragments in an oil barrel at the bottom of a reservoir in the national park which matched DNA samples taken from Billy’s mother, leading them to conclude that Billy was murdered. However, the Office of the Attorney General said the evidence was “unreliable.”

In December 2019, arrest warrants were issued for Chaiwat and three other officials on suspicion of murdering Billy. They were released on bail for 800,000 baht each. In 2020, the murder charges were dropped.

Fast forward to this year, the DSI found extra evidence that Billy was murdered and charged Chaiwat and his three friends once more.

Chaiwat continues to deny all charges filed against him.

Crime NewsThailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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