Concrete-filled bodies found in Thailand are aides of missing activist, police say | World News

Two mutilated bodies washed up on the shore of the Mekong River in northeast Thailand have been identified as anti-government activists.

Prominent Thai anti-monarchist Surachai Danwattananusorn, 78, and two close aides, known as Phu Chana, 54, and Kasalong, 47, were last seen in Vientiane, Laos, on 11 December 2018.

Two corpses were discovered later that month wrapped in sacks and fishing nets.

Their hands and feet were bound, their faces were disfigured and their bodies had been stuffed with concrete.

Police in Nakhon Phanom province have now confirmed that DNA from the remains match Kasalong and Phu Chana.

The fate of Surachai Danwattananusorn is unknown.

Thai political activist, Surachai Danwattananusorn, 71, (C) is hugged by his family after his release at Bangkok Prison in 2013
Surachai Danwattananusorn (C) was released from Bangkok prison in 2013

Unconfirmed reports suggest a third body was also found but then lost.

The three men were members of a group which fled to Laos in 2014 during Thailand’s military coup.

Their disappearance has raised concerns among fellow activists that they were kidnapped by an official or vigilante death squad and that their deaths were politically motivated.

Surachai Danwattananusorn is a well-known leader of the anti-military Red Shirt movement.

After taking power, Thailand’s junta announced defending the monarchy would be a priority.

In total, five Thai government critics have vanished from Laos in the last two years.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch is urging the government to investigate.

“The Lao government seems intent on sweeping the abduction and gruesome murder of Thai activists under the rug,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Lao authorities need to credibly investigate and prosecute this heinous case, which has raised alarms for Thai activists in exile in Laos.”

Thai officials have denied any involvement.

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