Activist's drug ties 'go back a year'

Activist's drug ties 'go back a year'

Chaiyapoom Pasae. Army general says the youth 'made a mistake' and died for it. (Photo via YouTube)
Chaiyapoom Pasae. Army general says the youth 'made a mistake' and died for it. (Photo via YouTube)

The army has revealed the Lahu activist who was fatally shot by a soldier last Friday in Chiang Mai was involved in the drug trade for more than a year.

Chaiyapoom Pasae, who was president of the Northern Traditional Plant Preservation Network, was shot dead by a soldier at a checkpoint in tambon Muang Na in Chiang Dao district. He allegedly tried to hurl a grenade at pursuing officers while trying to escape.

Third Region Army chief Vijak Siribunsop expressed sorrow over Chaiyapoom's death. He stood firm, however, in claiming the activist had been involved in drug trafficking, saying the man had been found to be connected with such criminal activity since January last year.

Officials were trying to capture Chaiyapoom after they found that money from the sale of drugs had been transferred to him, according to Lt Gen Vijak.

"He campaigned about ethnicity, which is good, but he made a mistake," said Lt Gen Vijak.

According to police, soldiers found 2,800 methamphetamine pills hidden in a car bearing a Chiang Mai licence plate in which Chaiyapoom and his friend, Pongnai, had been travelling.

Based on the footage of a CCTV camera at the scene, soldiers who checked the vehicle were not armed, Lt Gen Vijak said, adding they simply questioned the men inside the car and checked their identification cards.

As the suspects were acting suspiciously, the soldiers asked them to get out of the vehicle, he said, adding that one of them fled and tried to fight, prompting another armed security team to respond.

When asked how he believed the activist managed to procure the grenade, Lt Gen Vijak said similar Chinese-made devices can be found along the Thai border.

Authorities affirmed Chaiyapoom was 21, based on his stateless person's ID card, even though his family insisted he was only 17 and studied in Mathayom 4, or in upper secondary school. Lt Gen Vijak said officials will provide help to his family.

He said the shooter aimed at the suspect's arm but the bullet hit a critical area.

He asked the chief of the unit responsible to boost the morale of his soldiers, who only acted in accordance with their duty. Otherwise, they may fear taking action in future, he said.

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