Inquest into two deaths at Bon Kai during May 2010 unrest

On 29 April, the Criminal Court began an inquest into the deaths of Mana Saenprasoetsi and Phonsawan Nakhachai who were shot at Bon Kai on Rama IV Rd on 15 May 2010 when the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation was cracking down on red-shirt protests.

Mana Saenprasoetsi, 22, was a resident of Bon Kai and a rescue volunteer of the Poh Teck Tung Foundation.  He was fatally shot in the back of the head near the mouth of Soi Ngam Duplee in front of a branch of Thai Farmers Bank at about 2-3 pm while he was trying to help people who had been shot there.
 
One of those who had been shot and was helped by Mana was Phonsawan, 23, who came from Roi Et province in northeastern Thailand.  He was shot in the stomach and died later. 
 
Mana, left, giving first aid to one of the injured on the evening of 14 May at the entrance to Soi Ngam Du Plee on Rama IV Rd. 
 
According to the testimony of his mother Naree, 53, Mana on that day was eating at home when he received a radio call from his colleagues telling him that people had been shot near his home and asking him to go out to provide assistance.  He went out and at about 6 pm she was told by his colleagues that her son had been shot dead and his body was at Lerdsin hospital.
 
She later learnt from the rescue staff that her son helped bring Phonsawan, who was shot in the middle of Rama IV Rd, to the footpath, and when he left his shelter to help two injured persons, he was shot and killed on the spot, while holding a red-cross flag in his hand.
 
Phonsawan’s elder brother Nanthawan, 34, told the court that his brother was a motorcycle driver for hire, and he was not one of the red-shirt protesters.
 
At about 6 pm on that day, he received a phone call from Lerdsin Hospital that his brother had been seriously shot.  He went to the hospital with his brother’s girlfriend, and found that he had already died.
 
He later learnt from his brother’s friends that Phonsawan had taken his girlfriend to Silom and come to see friends at Soi Ngam Du Plee before being shot.  They told him that the bullet came from the direction of the Lumpini Boxing Stadium.
 
The next hearing will be on 8 July.
 
In an interview with VoiceTV not long after the incident, Atthachai Thapji, Mana’s fellow rescue volunteer for the Poh Teck Tung Foundation who was crawling behind Mana before he was shot, also believed that the bullet came from the direction of the boxing stadium.
 
In a CRES television press conference on 20 May 2010, then Deputy Chief of Staff Lt Gen Daopong Rattanasuwon, now a general and Deputy Army Chief, used the picture of Mana shot and lying on the footpath to explain the military operation on 19 May 2010.  
 
The picture was shown on screen as Daopong explained the situation that fires had broken out at Central World, and military troops and firefighters were prevented from entering the area due to armed resistance.
 
‘During the time we were waiting outside, some of those inside started a fire.  They started to burn Central World, Centara Grand Hotel.  The fire stopped and started again. We tried to bring fire trucks into the area.  But when the fire trucks went in, they were fired at from the inside, making it inconvenient to go in and causing losses.  But we tried our utmost to bring in the fire trucks, but were met with resistance all the time.’ 
 
Picture of Mana shot and lying on the footpath of Rama IV Rd on 15 May 2010.
 
 
The same picture of Mana is shown at 0.45 minutes into the clip of the CRES press conference about the burning of Central World on 19 May 2010.
 
In a video clip shot on the afternoon of 15 May 2010, soldiers are seen deployed in front of the Lumpini Boxing Stadium, with two snipers stationed on an upper floor of a building.
 
 
At 0.29 minutes, a voice is heard shouting ‘Don’t shoot! Put out the fire first!’  It is possible that this was the same time as when Mana was trying to extinguish a fire at a telephone booth in front of the Kasikorn Bank branch, as can be seen in several photos.
 

Mana (circled)
 
Mana and Phonsawan were among about 16 people killed at Bon Kai during 13-16 May 2010.