Police Chief Faces Inquiry Over Dissident’s Kidnapping

Photo: Wanchalearm Satsaksit / Facebook
Photo: Wanchalearm Satsaksit / Facebook

BANGKOK — The Parliament’s committee on law and human rights on Monday said it will summon the national police commissioner to testify about the fate of the Thai fugitive activist, who disappeared in Cambodia last week.

Although officials denied knowledge over the apparent abduction of anti-government activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, who serves as the committee’s spokesman, said the government must be held accountable for the incident.

“Even though Wanchalearm is a wanted fugitive for violating the computer crime act, he is a Thai national,” Ransiman said. “It is the obligation of the government to protect its citizens. On top of that, Wanchalearm has contributed to many youth welfare and other charitable organizations.”

Rangsiman said the committee will meet on Wednesday to consider the list of government officials it will summon for questioning.

The current list includes national police commissioner Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, Special Branch Police commissioner Maj. Gen. ‎Sarawut Karnpanit, and consular affairs department chief Chatri Atjananan, he said.

Wanchalearm, who fled to Cambodia in 2014, is wanted in Thailand for running a Facebook page critical of Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha’s military government. He also routinely criticized the monarchy, a taboo and criminal offense in Thailand.

He was reportedly manhandled into a black SUV and sped away from his condominium in Phnom Penh on Thursday. Wanchalearm was the latest anti-monarchy activist in exile to disappear in recent years.

Both the Thai and Cambodian government appear unwilling to investigate the alleged kidnapping.

When reporters asked him about the incident on Monday, deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said he is unaware of the issue, while deputy PM Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan said the matter is under Cambodia’s jurisdiction.

“I don’t know about the development of the case. I haven’t spoken with Cambodia deputy PM Tea Banhm, but we are coordinating with Cambodian authorities,” Prawit said.

Cambodia-based newspaper Khmer Times quoted Cambodian government officials as saying that they were also not aware about Wanchalearm’s alleged abduction.

When asked if the National Police is going to investigate the alleged abduction, Lt. Gen. Kim Khoeun told Khmer Times: “We don’t know about it, so what should we investigate for?”

Related stories:

UNHCR Says No Comment on Activist’s Abduction

Police Deny Role in Dissident’s Disappearance in Cambodia