Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mutilated bodies found in Mekong are Thai activists

Mutilated bodies found in Mekong are Thai activists

Mutilated bodies found in Mekong are Thai activists

The mutilated bodies of two men found stuffed with concrete in the Mekong River last month have been identified as Thai activists living in exile, police and family confirmed on Tuesday.

The pair were among dozens of anti-monarchy activists that fled Thailand to communist Laos after a 2014 coup by the staunchly royalist junta.

Surachai Sae-Dan, a prominent critic of Thailand’s monarchy and the Thai junta, went missing on December 12 with his aides, Kraidej Luelert and another man known only as “Comrade Phuchana”.

Later that month, two bodies were found floating in the river in northeastern Thailand, their faces maimed and stomachs disemboweled and stuffed with concrete blocks.

‘Serious danger’

DNA forensic testing had concluded there was a “99.95 per cent” chance one of the bodies was Kraidej after a comparative analysis with his son, said district police chief Kiattipoom Suwannatrai.

Phuchana’s son said the forensics department in Bangkok had confirmed his father was the other victim, while another police source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case said the second body was Phuchana.

Surachai’s whereabouts is still unknown.

Human Rights Watch said five opponents of Thailand’s monarchy living in Laos have gone missing in the past two years, suggesting other activists in exile were in “serious” danger.

The Laos government should conduct “thorough investigations on Surachai’s whereabouts and on who was responsible for the death of the two activists”, HRW senior researcher Sunai Phasuk said.

Thailand has some of the world’s strictest royal insult laws and the junta has tried in vain to extradite a number of prominent anti-monarchy activists who fled abroad after the 2014 coup.

The country is slated to hold long-delayed elections on March 24 this year followed by the coronation of new king Maha Vajiralongkorn, who will assume the throne two and a half years after the death of his highly revered father.

MOST VIEWED

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

    ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied. Ky Tech, a

  • Cambodian general visits Myanmar to enhance national defence cooperation

    Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Vong Pisen is now in Myanmar leading a delegation that aims to improve ties, particularly in national defence, with the fellow Asean member. The timing of Pisen’s four-day visit to the Southeast Asian neighbour is highly symbolic, with

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Sokha’s treason trial begins

    The treason trial of Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday with the presentation of a two-minute video clip. The footage, which was the basis of the charge against him, was dismissed by