Appeal court dismisses request for emergency trial to find missing Karen activist

The Appeal Court has dismissed a request to hold an emergency trial to find ‘Billy’, a Karen human rights activist who disappeared in April 2014, citing lack of evidence.

The Appeal Court on Friday dismissed the request to hold an emergency trial under Article 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code to investigate the alleged unlawful detention of Porlajee Rakchongcharoen, aka Billy, a Karen human and community rights activist, who disappeared on 17 April 2014.

The court reasoned that the evidence which could prove that Billy is still under detention is insufficient.

After the ruling was read, Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, the Superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park Office in western Phetchaburi Province, who on 17 April 2014 was involved in arresting and detaining Billy for alleged illegal possession of a wild bee honeycomb and six bottles of honey, said that he is not involved in Billy’s disappearance and he also is trying to find Billy.

The emergency trial request was submitted by Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, Billy’s wife, to the Appeal Court on 16 September 2014 after the Court of First Instance ruled earlier that evidence of the unlawful detention of Billy was insufficient.

On 29 January, the police filed charges under Article 157 of the Criminal Code (malfeasance in office) against Chaiwat and four other park officers for the alleged unlawful detention of Billy before his disappearance.      

Phinnapha has also submitted a petition to the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), to urge the Commission to accelerate its investigation into the park officers who witnessed the unlawful detention of Billy.

There is, however, no further progress on the case yet.  

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