Elephant camp owner accused of lèse majesté over missing elephants

A national park official has accused the owner of an elephant camp of making lèse majesté comments at a press briefing about missing elephants.    

On 15 June 2017, Chaiwat Limlikhitaksorn, former superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park, filed a complaint under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, against Laithongrian M., owner of an elephant camp in Ayutthaya Province.

According to Khaosod English, Laithongrian allegedly made references to the Monarchy at a press briefing on 24 February 2017 about five elephants from Thailand which were borrowed from the Department of National Parks (DNP) in 2006.

Chaiwat said that the elephant camp owner made false claims about the Monarchy to threaten him when they were having an argument at the press briefing.

Chaiwat presented documents and video footage as evidence to the Crime Suppression Division.

The former park officer said that in 2006 Laithongrian asked for permission from the DNP to take five elephants for exhibitions in Germany on condition that they were to be returned within one year.

The owner of the elephant camp submitted a six million baht bond as surety. However, the elephants have not yet been returned.

Chaiwat reported that from an investigation it is believed that the five elephants were used for breeding purposes, which would be against the law, because it was found that five elephants were born.

Khaosod English reported that Suthin Sapmuang, a commander of the police force that received the complaint, refused to talk about the case.

If found guilty, Laithongrian could face jail term up to 15 years.

Chaiwat is a primary suspect in the enforced disappearance of Porlajee Rakchongcharoen, aka Billy, a Karen human rights and community rights activist.

He was also accused of malfeasance for forcibly evicting and burning about 100 houses and rice barns of Karen villagers in Pong Luk Bang Kloy in Phetchaburi in 2011.

The court, however, dismissed both accusations against him.