11 July 2024

A police officer, accused of intimidating the wife of a former staffer of Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi province in exchange for sparing her husband possible prosecution over the murder of a Karen activist five years ago, has been transferred and is under disciplinary investigation.

Deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen, said today (Tuesday) that the probe has been ordered into Pol Snr Sgt-Maj Pongsawadee Thaikoon, alias Dab Teng, a police officer attached to the 7th Provincial Police Bureau, who is accused of intimidating the wife of a former staff member of Kaeng Krachan national park, Mr. Boontaen Busarakham, concerning Billy’s case.

He said that Dab Teng had admitted that he talked to Boontaen’s wife because they are familiar with each other, but denied intimidating her, adding that Dab Teng had also been transferred to the operations centre of the 7th Provincial Police Bureau, pending the outcome of the disciplinary probe.

Last week, former Kaeng Krachan national park chief Mr. Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson sought protection for some of his former staff at the park, claiming that they had been intimidated by Dab Teng to force them to implicate him in the murder of Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.

Meanwhile, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has agreed to send to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (ONACC) its findings against Mr. Chaiwat, who is accused of malfeasance in office for not bringing the late Karen activist to justice after his arrest five years ago for allegedly collecting wild honey in the park. Chaiwat claimed the suspect was released on the same day of his arrest, but there is no record of his arrest or release.

PACC secretary-general Pol Lt-Col Wannop Somjintanakul told a news conference that the PACC board agreed to submit the findings to the ONACC this week.

He said that, since it was now clear that Billy was murdered, the PACC board decided to have its report on the conduct of Mr. Chaiwat passed to the ONACC for consideration.

Meanwhile, Pol Lt-Col Siripong Sritula, director of the PACC’s 2nd Anti-Corruption Office, insisted that the PACC did not deliberately hold up the case as suggested, claiming that the PACC was not permitted by law to disclose the outcome of its investigations.

He said that, during the investigation, the PACC board twice ordered additional investigations to be conducted and Chaiwat was given the chance to present evidence in his defense but, with the murder of Billy, he said it was no longer within the authority of the PACC to investigate the case and it must pass it on to other related agencies.

The Department of Special Investigation said it was waiting for the PACC findings for consideration, together with its own investigative reports.