DSI to charge ex-Kaeng Krachan park chief over Billy’s disappearance
The Department of Special Investigation is expected to file criminal charges, against the former chief of Kaeng Krachan national park and three park officials today, in connection with the disappearance and subsequent murder of former Karen community rights activist Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen about five years ago.
Pol. Col. Shane Kanchanapat, director of the Special Cases Division of the DSI, told the media this morning (Monday) that evidence in the case, which amounts to about 17 files, will be submitted to public prosecutors at the Office of the Attorney-General, together with the DSI’s recommendation to file six charges against Mr. Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson and his three former staff members, namely Boontaen Busarakham, Thanaseth or Paitoon Chamthet and Krisanapong Chitthet.
The six charges are premediated murder, illegal detention, coercion through the use of firearms and physical force, robbery, concealment of a body to cover up crimes and malfeasance in office.
The filing of the charges is the culmination of the DSI’s efforts to resolve the case, which has been underway since the department accepted the case for investigation in June last year. Investigators got a break when they discovered a 200-litre oil drum in the river under a bridge in Kaeng Krachan national park in Phetchaburi province. Fragments of a human skull and bones were found inside the burned out oil drum, and elements of the DNA samples from the fragments were found to match those of Billy’s mother.
Pol Col Shane said that the four suspects declined to make formal statements to the DSI during the inquiry process, adding that he had given them until November 28th to submit their written testimonies. Nothing was received from the suspects by that deadline.
He said the public prosecutors have 40 days to study the DSI’s findings and to decide whether to indict the suspects or to demand more evidence from the DSI.
Billy’s widow, Ms. Pinnapa, told the media that she is satisfied with the DSI’s performance in the handling of this case, saying that there is still a chance for justice.
Her lawyer, Mr. Surapong Kongchantik, said the filing of charges will help to convince the international community that the Thai justice system meets international standards and can be trusted.