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Park chief due in court Monday over murder of Karen activist ‘Billy’

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) will indict former Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn and three other suspects in court on Monday over the disappearance and the murder of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.

The OAG said on Wednesday public prosecutors will file more charges against the four at the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Monday.

The court date was announced shortly after the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) pressed the charges of premeditated murder, intimidation using weapons, unlawful detention and concealing a corpse against all four men.

Besides Mr Chaiwat, the other suspects are Bunthaen Butsarakham, Thanaset Chaemthet and Kritsanaphong Chitthet. They worked under Mr Chaiwat when he was the Kaeng Krachan National Park chief in 2014.

“Billy” disappeared on April 17, 2014, after he left Ban Bang Kloi in the national park en route to Kaeng Krachan district of Phetchaburi.

The village chief registered a complaint with Kaeng Krachan police station the next day when his family reported he had not returned home.

His disappearance turned into a murder case after the DSI found skull fragments and bones near an oil tank inside the park in September 2019. DNA tests on the items matched that of his mother.

“Billy” was survived by his wife, Pinnapha Pruksapan, and five children.

At the time of his murder, the Karen activist was a leading campaigner against the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plan to evict residents from Bang Kloi and other villages. They argued that they had lived in the forest for generations.

Mr Chaiwat said that he was not worried about the extra charges as they were a formal part of the process. He maintained his innocence.

“This case must be proven by scientific evidence. We stand ready for court proceedings so we will not be asked ‘Where is Billy?’ any more.”

Credit Bangkok Post

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