Prosecutors explain why no murder charge yet filed in Billy’s disappearance
The widow of missing Karen rights activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen today appealed to the attorney-general for justice, after the Office of Special Cases clarified why it had dropped all charges, except one for malfeasance, against former Kaeng Krachan national park chief Chaiwat Limlikhit-akson and three other ex-park officials.
At a press conference, held at the Office of the Attorney-General today, Mr. Prayut Petchkhun, special prosecutor and deputy spokesman for the OAG, said that the evidence from the Department of Special Investigation was insufficient to substantiate all except the malfeasance charge.
Eight charges were filed against Mr. Chaiwat and his subordinates, namely Boontaen Busarakham, Thanaseth, or Paithoon Chaemthet, and Krissanong Chitthet. They include premediated murder with an attempt to cover up the offence, illegal detention intended to deprive other people of physical freedom, robbery, coercion and concealment of the murder.
Due to public interest in the case, Mr. Prayut said that the Office of Special Cases had set up a panel of prosecutors, led by Mr. Pakasit Luangthong, a specialist prosecutor, to consider the case files presented by the DSI.
The panel had reviewed the DSI’s files and concluded that the evidence available was sufficient to press a malfeasance charge against Chaiwat, Boontaen and Thanaseth, for their failure to hand Billy over to the police to face a charge of stealing wild honey in the park. The fourth accused, Krissanapong, was charged with being an accessory for helping the park officials commit malfeasance, said Mr Prayut.
The panel also concluded that the DSI did not have eyewitnesses or circumstantial evidence to implicate the four former park officials in any crime except malfeasance.
As for the premediated murder charge, the panel cited the ruling of the Phetchaburi provincial court, upheld by the Appeals and the Supreme courts, that Billy had been released by the four former officials after his brief detention.
Although the bone fragments found in a burned oil drum in the river near the Kaeng Krachan Bridge matched DNA samples from Billy’s mother, the special prosecutors ruled that this did not prove the bone fragments belonged to Billy.
The panel’s decision to drop all but the one charge was endorsed by Mr. Thapana Jaiklom, director-general of the Office of Special Cases.
After the explanation, Ms. Pinnapa Prueksaphan, Billy’s widow, submitted her handwritten plea to the attorney-general seeking justice. She said there might be some ulterior motive in the disappearance of her husband, adding that it was against Karen tradition and belief for human ashes to be cast into the river after the cremation.
She added that she might file charges against the former park officials herself.