Activist who helped Thai villagers is shot dead

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The Independent Online

A gunman has shot and killed a prominent Thai activist who led protests that forced the government to relocate a proposed hydroelectricity plant.

A gunman has shot and killed a prominent Thai activist who led protests that forced the government to relocate a proposed hydroelectricity plant.

Just hours after Charoen Wattaksorn, 37, testified at an anti-corruption hearing, he was shot eight times by an assailant on a motorcycle as he got off a bus in the southern Prachuab Khiri Khan province on Monday night, Police Lieutenant Wuthithep Pensaeng said.

Mr Charoen died on the way to the hospital. Police started an investigation.

The activist was returning from Bangkok, where he had testified against alleged corruption among officials in Prachuab Khiri Khan before a parliamentary committee, Lt Wuthithep said.

Mr Chareon was a vocal activist who led hundreds of villagers in marathon protests against a government proposal to build a hydroelectricity plant in Prachuab Khiri Khan's Bonok village, a plan that many opponents said would threaten the environment and the livelihoods of local fishermen.

Bowing to pressure after years of protests, the government of the Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, recently climbed down and ordered the proposed plant to be built in another part of the country.

After the government scrapped the plan, Mr Charoen charged that officials had conspired with local businessmen to acquire public land that was to be used for the plant. He presented those claims before the anti-corruption committee in parliament shortly before his death on Monday.

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