6 June 2024

Department of Special Investigation (CSI) chief Pol Col Paisit Wongmuang said today (Tuesday) that Karen community rights activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen was never released after his arrest, as claimed by those who apprehended him, as no official evidence proving that he had been released can be found.

He insisted that he has a solid case against Mr. Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson, former chief of Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi province, and Boontaen Busarakham, Thanaseth Chaemthet and Krisanapong Chitthet, citing forensic evidence, footage from CCTV systems, communication records and the testimonies of over 100 witnesses.

He said that the DSI investigation results are in line with the initial findings of the Government Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, which showed that Chaiwat and his men arrested Billy, but there is nothing to prove that he was subsequently released “which is an important issue”.

The DSI chief revealed that park officials, headed by Chaiwat, had conflicts with Karen tribesmen living in the park, resulting in the shooting of some of their leaders and the burning of some houses. An arson case, against the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Plant Conservation, was taken to the Administrative Court, then to the Supreme Administrative Court, which ordered the department pay compensation to the Karen people affected by its actions.

Pol Col Paisit also categorically denied an allegation that the DSI had bullied Chaiwat and his men, adding that the DSI has not yet concluded that there are no others involved in the activist’s disappearance and murder.