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.
Editing by Halima Sheji/Maureen Atuonwu
Thai household debt could rise beyond 80 pct of GDP due to COVID-19 impact: think tank
Thailand’s national economic planning agency on Tuesday told the media that the COVID-19 crisis has had a massive impact on household debt which may soar beyond 80 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Thai household debt stood at 79.8 percent of GDP in the first quarter of this year, said in the June report issued by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).
“The pandemic resulted in businesses shutting down in addition to the drought already having hit households hard, leading to increased borrowing of money as incomes declined,” said NESDC secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisumphand.
Thosaporn also said that the economic impact will be severe in the second quarter, as many businesses have laid off workers, or cut their employees’ salaries.
The official also said that consumer loans have expanded 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
While overall GDP value has dropped to 15 trillion baht (482.2 billion United States dollars) this year from 16 trillion baht (514.4 billion United States dollars) last year, household debt is expected to surpass 80 percent of GDP this year, he warned.
Consumers also used personal loans for doing businesses, estimated to be 17.9 percent of total personal loans, which include hire purchase, auto loans and mortgage, he said.
The NESDC report indicated that non-performing loans arising from consumption loans is about 3.23 per cent of total consumption loans, up from 2.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Bad debts amounted to 156 billion baht (5 billion United States dollars), he added.
Thai household debt totaled 13.47 trillion baht (433 billion United States dollars) in the fourth quarter of last year, up 5 percent but down from 5.5 percent in the previous quarter.
The debt-to-GDP ratio was 79.8 per cent, the highest in 14 quarters.
The report said debt-to-GDP is expected to surpass 80 percent of GDP this year.
Police arrest 23 criminals in Kabul
The Afghan police have arrested 23 individuals on charge of involvement in various crimes over the past two days in Kabul, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.
The arrested men, according to a statement released by the ministry, were involved in theft, murder, disturbing public orders and holding illegal arms in and outside the capital city.
Seven pistols, two vehicles, three daggers and a fake vehicle’s number-plate have also been confiscated from the possession of arrested during the operations, added the statement.
Police patrol teams also arrested 10 outlaws and seized a large amount of narcotics elsewhere in the country on Monday, it said.
New York City Police Department to disband plainclothes anti-crime unit
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) will transition some 600 plainclothes anti-crime officers to other assignments including neighborhood policing and detective work, the NYPD commissioner said on Monday.
At a press conference at the NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan, Commissioner Dermot Shea said it is “a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city.”
Officers of the anti-crime unit specialize in undercover operations and perform patrol services in unmarked vehicles, in an attempt to spot criminals of usually violent crimes.
The unit has caused some tension between the NYPD and the community. According to The New York Times, it has been involved in some of the city’s most notorious police shootings.
The overhaul is also “in the realm of closing one of the last chapters of stop-question-and-frisk,” said Shea, referring to a controversial policing practice that often targets minorities.
“What we always struggle with, I believe, as police executives, is not keeping crime down — it’s keeping crime down and keeping the community working with us,” said the commissioner.
“I think it’s time to move forward and change how we police in this city. We can do it with brains. We can do it with guile. We can move away from brute force,” he added.
The announcement came after weeks of protests against police brutality in the city, during which a number of officers were disciplined for using heavy-handed tactics toward largely peaceful protesters, and one was charged with assault, criminal mischief, harassment and menacing for shoving a woman to the ground.
However, Shea noted on Monday that it is a policy shift “coming from me personally” instead of any reflection on NYPD officers, adding that discussions about the overhaul had occurred for about a year.
Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a police reform agenda that would ban chokeholds by police and allow for transparency of offices’ disciplinary records, among other reforms.
One feared dead in Kwara communal clash – Police
The Police Command in Kwara has confirmed the killing of one person in a communal clash that ensued between some herdsmen and the indigenes of Lata in the Patigi Local Government Area.
The spokesman of the command, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi, while confirming the development, however, noted that normalcy had returned to the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria gathered that many sustained varying degrees of injuries in the incident, which happened on Sunday.
Dangerous weapons such as knives, cutlasses were reportedly used by the people, while the crisis lasted, pandemonium was said to have enveloped the agrarian community.
Okasanmi said, “we learned that some indigenes of Lata community accused the herdsmen of riding motorcycles in dangerous and rough manner.
“The Fulani herdsmen were confronted and an altercation ensued between the two parties over the way they were acting.
“It was gathered that one of the herdsmen sustained serious wound during the melee that followed,” he said.
The Police spokesperson said this made the herdsmen to mobilise for a reprisal attack on the indigenes leading to the death of one person.
According to him, many others from both parties sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Felix Ajide (NAN)