Anti-graft chief among witnesses in Porlajee murder case

Anti-graft chief among witnesses in Porlajee murder case

A portrait of missing Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen is displayed at an event held in Kaeng Krachan district, Phetchaburi province, in 2017. The Department of Special Investigation on Wednesday called on the division head of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to give statements in connection with the murder of Billy. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)
A portrait of missing Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen is displayed at an event held in Kaeng Krachan district, Phetchaburi province, in 2017. The Department of Special Investigation on Wednesday called on the division head of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to give statements in connection with the murder of Billy. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)

The division head of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has been called to give statements in connection with the murder of Karen activist Porlajee Billy” Rakchongcharoen, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has said.

DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang on Wednesday said the PACC’s Pol Maj Siripong Sirtula is among 20 additional witnesses to be interviewed by the DSI.

Pol Maj Siripong is chairman of the PACC’s sub-committee investigating a group of Kaeng Krachan national park officials who say they detained Porlajee for allegedly smuggling forest honey on April 17, 2014 — the day of his disappearance.

The park officials said they failed to hand over Porlajee to Kaeng Krachan police for prosecution because they say he had been at odds with local police and the PACC investigators, said Pol Col Paisit.

At the time of his arrest, Porlajee was helping fellow ethnic Karen forest dwellers sue Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, then chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Kanchanaburi province, for setting fire to their bamboo huts and rice barns during a series of forest evictions.

On May 22-24 this year, Border Patrol Police divers using a sonar-equipped underwater drone combed an area of the Kaeng Krachan reservoir under a rope bridge and found an oil barrel containing bone fragments.

The Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) found one fragment was a piece of human skull which had been burned, cracked and shrunk due to exposure to extreme heat. DNA tests confirmed a match with Porlajee’s mother, leading to the assumption the bones were Porlajee’s and that he was murdered.

CIFS director Wannapong Kotcharak on Wednesday said the institute will examine other bone fragments to seek a match with Porlajee’s DNA. The results of the examination, which is being performed at the DSI’s request, will be announced in two weeks, he said.

The institute will send the findings, which represent crucial evidence in the murder investigation, to accredited experts overseas for verification.


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