DSI: Enough Evidence to Charge Official Over ‘Billy’ Abduction

A file photo of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen. Image: Amnesty International.
A file photo of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen. Image: Amnesty International.

BANGKOK — The Department of Special Investigation announced earlier this week that it will challenge the prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against four men allegedly involved in the presumed killing of a Karan land rights activist.

Department director Pol. Lt. Col. Korawat Panprapakorn said there is sufficient evidence and eyewitness testimonies to press murder charges against the four men, including Chaiwat Limlikhit-aksorn, the former chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, for the abduction of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen back in 2014.

“After receiving the decision from the prosecutors, we went through all the evidence,” Korawat said on Tuesday. “Including eyewitness accounts, material evidence, forensic evidence, as well as comments from experts and found that we can’t agree with the prosecutors’ decision.”

Read: Bones at Nat’l Park Belong to Missing Karen Activist

“We will forward our comments to the attorney general,” he said. 

The four men were previously charged in 2019 of seven offenses, including premeditated murder and concealing the body of Porlajee the activist, who disappeared in 2014. DSI said in 2019 they discovered what appeared to be Porlajee’s remains.

However, the Office of the Attorney General dropped all serious charges against the suspects, citing insufficient evidence linking them to the alleged murder. Only lesser offenses of negligence and conspiracy were included in the indictment. 

Under Thai laws, both the prosecutors and police investigators have to agree on dropping the charges. 

Activists have accused then-director Chaiwat of engineering the disappearance of Porlajee, who had been campaigning for the rights of Karen villagers to settle in disputed parts of the national park before he went missing in 2014.

Despite the serious accusations, Chaiwat and his aides were never brought to prison, since they were released on bail.

Chaiwat is currently serving as the director of a conservation office in Udon Thani province.