Thailand won't confirm troops' involvement in death of Japanese cameraman
Sun, Dec 12, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network

THAILAND - Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Tharit Pengdit declined yesterday to release the full report on the death of a Japanese cameraman during the April 10 crackdown on red shirts in Bangkok, saying the investigation and witnesses could be affected by such a disclosure. His comment followed a report by news agency Reuters that leaked documents indicated the cameraman was likely killed by government troops.

The red shirts are scheduled to submit "evidence" about who murdered Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto at the Japanese Embassy tomorrow.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday police had updated the embassy regularly about progress on the case. Abhisit also said the red-shirts' report about the DSI probe should be complete rather than partial.

Affirming that the investigation met international standards, the PM said the DSI had no authority to reveal the report to Reuters or the public as it could affect the investigation and pose a threat to witnesses.

Tharit said they had kept the Japanese Embassy informed about the probe and the embassy officials were satisfied with that.

Tharit also said he had instructed officials to conclude within the coming week the inquiries into 89 deaths during the March-May red-shirt protests.

Previously, the DSI submitted its initial findings about 13 deaths to the Metropolitan Police to pass on to police investigators. These indicated troops may have been involved in these deaths, including Muramoto's and three people who died at Wat Pathum Wanaram said to have been shot from a higher ground.

The military has reportedly admitted eight armed soldiers were sent to watch over the Skytrain line near the temple.

Meanwhile, red-shirt Somyos Preuksakasemsuk, who leads the June 24 Group, said yesterday his group would go to the Japanese embassy at 10am tomorrow to submit "evidence". This would be a CD of pictures, a video of interviews with four people who helped the cameraman after he was shot and an English language letter about suspicions that suggested the Thai government was trying to hide something, he said.

They would also give the Japanese embassy the four witnesses' names and addresses so the embassy could try to help them against threats from government people. Somyos said they had no intent to affect bilateral relations but hoped the international community would probe the government's "lies".

PM Abhisit said Reuters had interviewed him earlier about the case. He said the news agency had told him the report they saw was partial.

Asked about leaked documents indicating troops' involvement in deaths, he said the news agency used the word "likely". He said everything had to be done according to the justice process, and a court would rule on the alleged involvement of state officers.

Meanwhile, Si Sa Ket Senator Jittipoj Wiriyaroj, who chairs a Senate committee on political developments, said the committee had information - both official and unofficial - including witness accounts and video clips, but couldn't reveal them.

He said the committee's information leaned in the same direction as the Reuters report -there were suspicions suggesting state officers may have beeninvolved in the six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram and the Japanese cameraman.

He said the committee would call the DSI to get regular updates on their work and check if they were doing their duties. The committee would conclude its initial report soon, he said.


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