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Rights body asks if weapons were used against missing activist

Pinnapa Preuksapan, wife of a prominent Karen activist who disappeared on April 17, visits the National Police headquarters in Bangkok yesterday along with her four children to seek updates on the ongoing investigation.

Pinnapa Preuksapan, wife of a prominent Karen activist who disappeared on April 17, visits the National Police headquarters in Bangkok yesterday along with her four children to seek updates on the ongoing investigation.

The National Human Rights Commission has called on the police to find out if Kaeng Krachan National Park officials used any weapons against an activist, who has been missing since April 17.

Dr Nirand Pitakwatchara, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission's Civil and Political Rights panel, yesterday met relevant agencies including officers from Kaeng Krachan Police Station and Phetchaburi provincial officials to seek details that might be linked to the disappearance of Karen activist Por Cha Lee "Billy" Rakchong-charoen.

Billy, 31, disappeared shortly after Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn reportedly questioned him about the wild-bee honey he had in his possession.

During the two-hour-long meeting, several members of the panel wanted to know if the Kaeng Krachan park officials used weapons while questioning Billy.

The panel also called on the police to find Billy's motorcycle, which might prove to be key evidence on his disappearance.

Nirand also pointed out that Billy was known to have had conflicts with several other people locally, though most foreign agencies seem to be focusing on problems he might have had with state agencies.

"We want police to enforce the law with fairness," he said, adding that he hoped National Police chief General Adul Saengsingkaew would order an investigation into Billy's disappearance as soon as possible.

However, Nirand did not call on Chaiwat to provide details possibly related to Billy's disappearance, as he did not consider the park chief a plaintiff in this case.

Kaeng Krachan Police Station superintendent Woradej Suanklai said his team would look for more evidence in relation to the case.

"We will find out why Chaiwat released Billy at the location he disappeared from," he said.

In a related development, Karen Federation of Thailand president Sorasak Senapairoh said his organisation has given state agencies two weeks to investigate Billy's disappearance, and if no progress is made, he will rely on other measures to pressure state agencies.

He also plans to hold a concert to raise funds to support Billy's wife and to launch a massive campaign to find the activist.






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