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Court Issues Arrest Warrants for Murder of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen

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A court has approved warrants for the arrests of a former chief of the Kaeng Krachan National Park and three other officials. They were issued for the murder of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.

Paisit Wongmuang, director-general of the Department of Special Investigation, said on Monday the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases approved the arrest warrants for Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn and three other park officials in the afternoon.

They faced many charges including murder, robbery and detention. The DSI would prepare for their arrests but would welcome their surrender, Pol Col Paisit said.

Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn facing Murder charges

Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former chief the Kaeng Krachan National Park, arrives at the Central Administratve Court in Bangkok in June last year to hear the ruling in a case in which karen people accused park officials of destroyng their assets.

Mr Chaiwat, who on Monday joined park officials in greeting Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon during his visit to the Erawan National Park in Sri Sawat district, Kanchanaburi province, said he had yet to see the warrant, adding that he was not worried and would not escape. Mr Chaiwat is currently director of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation’s Area 9 unit in Ubon Ratchathani province.

Porlajee was last seen on April 17, 2014 in the custody of officials in Phetchaburi province. At the time of his arrest, he was helping his relatives, a group of ethnic Karen, to sue Mr Chaiwat for setting fire to their bamboo huts and rice barns during a series of forest evictions in the national park.

Mr Chaiwat later claimed Porlajee had been arrested for collecting wild honey but was released after being given a warning.

Mr Chaiwat and his team earlier faced a murder charge related to Porlajee’s disappearance but were eventually acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Barrel containing charred human bone fragments

Searches conducted from April to August this year discovered a barrel containing charred human bone fragments in the Kaeng Krachan Dam reservoir. DNA tests of the fragments matched those conducted on Porlajee’s mother, leading the DSI to conclude that the bones were Porlajee’s and that he had been murdered.

Porjalee’s wife Pinnapa Prueksapan was at the Justice Ministry on Monday to ask Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin to allow Pol Lt Col Korrawat Panprapakorn, outgoing DSI deputy chief who leads the investigation, to continue handling the case.

Pol Lt Col Korrawat Transferred

In mid-October, the cabinet approved the transfer of Pol Lt Col Korrawat to be an inspector-general of the Justice Ministry, prompting the concern about the continuity of the case.

Mr Somsak said the DSI’s case on Billy was 99% complete and Pol Lt Col Korrawat was likely to finish it by the Dec 2 schedule.

Pol Lt Col Korrawat would be supervising the case until there is a royal command for his promotion, Mr Somsak said.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases was formed three years ago to handle cases involving malfeasance, abuse of power, corruption or bribery involving state officials, as well as cases related to asset declarations.

News Source: Bangkok Post