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

  • Hundreds of children in hospital with dengue

    A serious dengue fever epidemic is affecting Cambodia, with nearly 600 children hospitalised in the five Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals on Monday alone, a statement posted on the Kantha Bopha Foundation’s official Facebook page said on Wednesday. Because Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals provide

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials

  • Using tech innovation to tackle Cambodia’s rampant road deaths

    Cutting corners, rampant phone use, speeding and driving through red lights – these are just some of the reasons why driving in Phnom Penh can often feel like a city-wide game of dodgems. The high death toll on the nation’s roads – combined with several high-profile