Court Drops Charges Against Forest Officials

PRESS RELEASE:

A court has dismissed murder charges against four forestry officials over the 2014 disappearance of a prominent land rights activist, citing lack of evidence.

In April 2014, rangers detained Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in Kaeng Krachan National Park, southwest of the capital of Bangkok, but he never appeared at a police station for processing and has not been seen since.

He had been working to protect the rights of members of his ethnic Karen community who had been evicted from the park.

On Thursday (28 Sep), a Bangkok court sentenced National Parks chief Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn to three years in jail for failing to properly charge Pholachi in 2014. However, murder charges against Chaiwat and three other officials were dismissed.

In a statement, the court added that DNA tests of bone fragments discovered by investigators in a scorched oil drum dumped in the national park were not enough to prove the bones belonged to Pholachi.

It also said there was not enough evidence to determine that he was murdered.

Chaiwat was granted bail and plans to appeal the sentence.

The preceding is a press release from the Thai Government PR Department.

Goongnang Suksawat
Goong Nang is a News Translator who has worked professionally for multiple news organizations in Thailand for many years and has worked with The Pattaya News for more than four years. Specializes primarily in local news for Phuket, Pattaya, and also some national news, with emphasis on translation between Thai to English and working as an intermediary between reporters and English-speaking writers. Originally from Nakhon Si Thammarat, but lives in Phuket and Krabi except when commuting between the three.