Police file charge against park officers over Billy’s disappearance

The Thai Police pressed charge against civil servants suspected of taking parts in the unlawful detention of the disappeared Karen activist Billy while Billy’s wife pressed the Thai authorities to investigate the allegedly unlawful detention prior to his disappearance.

The inquiry officers of the Royal Thai Police Region Seven on Thursday morning filed charges under Article 157 of the Criminal Code (malfeasance in office) against Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, the head of the Kaeng Krachan National Park Office, and four other park officers for allegedly unlawfully detained, Porlajee Rakchongcharoen (aka. Billy), an active Karen human and community rights activist, before his disappearance.      

On the same day, Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, Billy’s wife, submitted a petition to Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), to urge the commission to accelerate the investigation on the park officers who witnessed the unlawful detention of Billy.

Waraporn Utairangsri, the lawyer representing the case, also told Prachatai that Phinnapha also requested the NACC to establish an independent fact finding committee to investigate Billy’s disappearance because she believed that certains members in the NACC are acquainted to Chaiwat.

Billy has disappeared since 17 May 2014. He was arrested and unlawfully detained by Chaiwat regarding an unlawful wild bee honeycomb and six bottles of honey allegedly found in his possession before he disappeared.

Shortly after his disappearance, Pinnapha, Billy’s wife, requested the court to hold an emergency trial under Article 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code to investigate alleged unlawful detention. However, the Court of First Instance later ruled that evidence of the unlawful detention of Billy was insufficient.

On 16 September 2014, Phetchaburi Provincial Court, nonetheless, allowed an appeal against the ruling of the Court of First Instance after Billy’s wife, and her lawyer requested.

In 2011, Billy assisted the Karen villagers to file a lawsuit against Chaiwat in the Administrative Court. He accused park chief of forcefully evicting and burning the houses of ethnic Karen villagers in Pong Luk Bang Kloy in the western province of Phetchaburi.