NHRC pursues fight for 'Billy' with DSI

NHRC pursues fight for 'Billy' with DSI

We All Billy exhibition was held in Bangkok in 2014 in commemoration of disappeared Karen activist Porlajee. (Bangkok Post file photo)
We All Billy exhibition was held in Bangkok in 2014 in commemoration of disappeared Karen activist Porlajee. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has proposed the mother of Karen land rights activist Porlajee "Billy" Rakchongcharoen petition the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to accept Mr Porlajee's disappearance as a special case.

Commission member Angkhana Neelapaijit said yesterday the agency suggested Porlajee's mother lodge a petition after the DSI claimed his wife, Pinnapa Prueksapan, was not a legal wife and did not register her marriage with Porlajee.

Ms Angkhana was speaking after a meeting with Ms Pinnapa and representatives from the DSI and the Rights and Liberties Protection Department yesterday.

However, she said Mr Porlajee's family should also officially authorise Ms Pinnapa to lodge a petition instead of them as it was difficult to locate the whereabouts of Mr Porlajee's mother.

The NHRC's move came after Ms Pinnapa sought help from the commission in her husband's case last month. Ms Pinnapa said she received a letter from the DSI, rejecting her petition calling on the agency to accept her husband's disappearance as a special case due to insufficient evidence or witness testimony to prosecute people suspected of involvement in the case.

According to Ms Angkhana, DSI representatives said they rejected Ms Pinnapa's request as she was not Porlajee's legal wife.

The DSI also reasoned it has conducted an investigation into the case for some time but failed to conclude the probe result, which affected the agency's performance. The agency, however, said it will be able to proceed with the investigation if Mr Porlajee's body is found.

Ms Angkhana said in her view, the DSI had the authority to take tougher action on the case under the Special Case Investigation Act.

If the DSI treats Mr Porlajee's disappearance as a special case, there will be a better chance to bring those in connection with the crime to justice, she added.

Meanwhile, Ms Pinnapa said DSI investigators told her earlier during their field inspection in Phetchaburi that it would be better to let local police investigate the case due to their familiarity with residents and the topography.

The activist is alleged to have disappeared after being detained by officials of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi in April 2014.

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