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Thai police arrest 4 suspects over murder of Karen activist

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Thai police on Tuesday says it arrested four people in connection with the killing of an ethnic Karen activist whose burnt remains were discovered earlier this year after he disappeared five years ago.

Porlajee Rakchongcharoen, also known as Billy, went missing in April 2014 after he was arrested by Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, for allegedly illegally collecting wild honey in the park.

His arrest came after he led a planned lawsuit in 2011 against Chaiwat, whom he accused of evicting Karen families from the park by destroying and burning their homes.

Thai police’s Department of Special Investigations said on Tuesday that four suspects including Chaiwat and his accomplices have turned themselves in and have been formally charged for Porlajee’s murder.

The case of Porlajee’s disappearance regained prominence when police discovered his burnt bones in a reservoir at the park in April and May this year.

Porlajee’s charred remains were found submerged along with an oil barrel and other equipment which it is suspected was used to burn his body.

Tuesday’s arrested suspects face criminal charges of premeditated murder, concealing a corpse, kidnapping and other severe charges.

Chaiwat has maintained his innocence and has said that he would fight the case.

Activists who oppose state officials in the region have repeatedly become victims of what has been called involuntary or enforced disappearances.

In 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances recorded 82 cases in Thailand since 1980.

HS/MNA

Editing by Halima Sheji/Maureen Atuonwu

 

 

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