Prawn farm boss on murder conspiracy charges
PHUKET TOWN: Somsak Wongsawanond, the owner of the Wachara Prawn Farm in Pa Khlok, was arrested yesterday on charges of conspiracy to murder environmental activist Jurin Rachapol at the end of January. K. Jurin died on January 30 after being shot three times while collecting cashew leaves in a forest near the farm. The man accused of carrying out the shooting, Wachara Farm employee Bancha Noppawong, 34, from Songkhla, was arrested at the farm on February 7 by officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD), and was taken to Bangkok for further investigation. Early yesterday morning, officers from the CSD again went to the farm and arrested Somsak, who was already on bail charged with illegal possession of a weapon and discharging a weapon in a public place. The prawn farm boss, who has denied any involvement in the murder, has been taken to Bangkok while investigations continue. Jurin was the second victim of what appeared to be a campaign to silence protests against the Wachara Farm’s encroachment into protected mangrove forests. The first victim, in October last year, was Siripoj Cheechang, who was knocked off his motorbike by a pick-up truck. The truck’s driver then made a U-turn and ran over him as he lay in the road. K. Siripoj survived the attempt on his life. Bancha was also arrested in connection with that attack, and charged with attempted murder and reckless driving. He was released on bail in November. About two months later, K. Jurin was gunned down.
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