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Karen activist 'never released'

Dec 02. 2014
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By Tanpisit Lerdbamrungchai

A POLICE PROBE into CCTV footage suggests that missing Karen activist Porlajee "Billy" Rakchongcharoen was never released following his arrest on a petty offence by Kaeng Krachan National Park officials, police investigators said on Monday.
Meanwhile, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) member Niran Pitakwatchara said the agency would soon ask for the Rights and Liberties Protection Department to provide witness protection for Billy’s wife Pinnapa Prueksaphan. 
During a meeting on Monday with the Rights Commission, Phetchaburi deputy chief Pol Col Traiwitch Namthongthai said the park’s CCTV footage was key evidence that Billy was never released, and student trainees who had claimed Billy left the park on a motorcycle had also retracted this claim. 
Traiwitch said police suspected three possible motives: Billy’s complaint to police about park officials after homes of Karen residents at Bang Kloy were burnt; Billy’s plan to file a petition calling for justice for Karen villagers; and photos and clips on Billy’s cell-phone were evidence of park officials’ cutting down trees. 
Police told the commission they were still compiling evidence in the case and no suspect had been identified yet. 
Traiwitch said police would inspect tree stumps and the whereabouts of logs, as well as check related documents from the park submitted to them and park supervisors. 
Niran, in his capacity as chairman of the commission’s subcommittee on civil and political rights, said he would also write to the Rights and Liberties Protection Department asking for Billy’s wife Pinnapa to be protected. He would also write and asking for progress from the Department of Special Investigation probe after male human blood was discovered in a park official’s car in October. 

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