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Former Park Chief Chaiwat Says “Charge Me Alone Over Billy”

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BANGKOK – Former chief of Kaeng Krachan national park, Mr. Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, said Thursday he is ready to face charges from the Department of Special Investigation.  For his alleged involvement in the disappearance of Karen activist Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen 5 years ago.

“People are focusing on me. They can charge me, me alone. I can stand it, I can stand being imprisoned, but not three of my men.

Don’t drag them into being involved,” said Mr. Chaiwat in an interview with Thai PBS.

Billy was arrested by Kaeng Krachan park officials, led by Chaiwat, on April 17th, 2017 for allegedly illegally collecting wild honey in the park.

Mr. Chaiwat claims that Billy, the human rights defender, was freed on the same day.

At the time of his arrest, Billy was traveling from his village to meet with Karen villagers in preparation for a lawsuit.

Over their forced eviction and the burning their of houses and possessions, Chaiwat was named as one of the defendants.

Mr. Chaiwat expressed doubts about the DSI’s evidence, citing the 200-litre oil drum, which was found on the river bed in the park area.

He pointed out that paint was still visible on the oil drum. Saying that the oil drum should have corroded after being under water for five years.

The DSI claimed that bone found in the oil drum were tested, by forensic experts from the Central Forensic Science Institute of the Royal Thai Police. The fragments contained DNA that matched DNA samples taken from the victim’s mother.

The DSI is also awaiting the results of more tests from the institute on 20 more bone fragments found in the river bed close to the oil drum.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut has called on (DSI) to solve the disappearance-turned-murder of Karen activist Polajee “Billy.”

DSI deputy chief Pol Lt-Colonel Korrawat Panprapakorn Meets with Billy’s Wife.

DSI deputy chief Pol Lt-Colonel Korrawat Panprapakorn met Billy’s wife Pinnapa Prueksaphan in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan district to explain DSI’s findings.

He also confirmed that Billy’s family members and other witnesses are under protection.

The DSI executive said he provided the explanation to clarify any doubts Pinnapa may have, as she will be a co-plaintiff in the murder case.

Pinnapa, was in tears upon hearing details of her husband’s killing. She said she had confidence in DSI’s investigation, but still worried over influential figures.

She also explained that traditionally, Karen people either bury or cremate the dead and do not scatter the remains.

Her comment was in relation to a previous report that some locals may have “arranged” a “Loy Angkhan.”

Source: Thai PBS, The Nation

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