Park official returns as civil servant
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Park official returns as civil servant

The Phetchaburi Administrative Court on Thursday ruled to reinstate Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, former head of Kaeng Krachan National Park, as a civil servant after being sacked over his alleged role in the burning of Karen villagers' homes about a decade ago.

The court revoked his dismissal order, issued on April 2 last year by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with a recommendation from the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC). The reinstatement will have retroactive effect to the day of his dismissal, the court said.

Mr Chaiwat last served as director of Protected Areas Regional Office 9 in Ubon Ratchathani before his dismissal.

However, the court on July 27 issued an injunction against the dismissal order allowing Mr Chaiwat to carry on as director, pending a court decision.

Speaking after leaving court, Mr Chaiwat said he has two years left in office before retirement and is determined to continue to protect the country's natural resources.

In 2011, villagers accused Mr Chaiwat, a former head of the park and several other officials of burning down the homes of about 100 Karen residents.

The PACC took up the case after Karen spiritual leader Ko-ee Mimee filed a complaint against Mr Chaiwat in 2015.

On Monday, Mr Chaiwat and three other defendants pleaded not guilty in a separate case brought against them over the disappearance and murder of Karen rights activist Porlajee "Billy" Rakchongcharoen in 2014.

The charges include premeditated murder, criminal intimidation using weapons, unlawful detention and concealing a corpse.

Porlajee was last seen on April 17, 2014, when he was detained by Mr Chaiwat and park officers at the park's Ma Rew checkpoint at the main entrance to Bang Kloy village.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases will begin the trial on Dec 26 with the court's inspection of the lists of evidence and witnesses already submitted.

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