Evidences suggest Japanese cameraman, 2 red shirts killed by bullets from military during 2010 political violence

Most evidence indicates that a Japanese cameraman and two other red shirts who died during violence in April-May 2010 were shot by the military.

Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court on Tuesday started another round of hearings on the deaths of Hiroyuki Muramoto, a Reuters cameraman, and Wasan Phutai and Todsachai Maekngamfa, two anti-establishment red-shirt protesters, who were shot dead during the violent military crackdown on red-shirt protests on 10 April 2010.

According to the testimony given at the hearing by Pol Capt Ariyataj Athisureemas from Plubplachai Police Station, the three deceased and many others were killed by high velocity bullets which were shot from the direction of the military.

He added that from the collection of evidence and witness accounts, the Metropolitan Police have concluded in the investigation report submitted to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the prosecutors that the three died during the military operation on April 10.

Pol Lt Gen Wanlop Prathummuang, one of the commanders of Logistic Office of the Royal Thai Police, who has been assigned by the DSI to investigate the case, testified at the hearing that according to the visual evidence and eye witnesses it can be concluded that Hiroyuki was shot dead in front of Satriwithaya School on Din So Road close to the Democracy Monument, but no evidence or witnesses can pinpoint exactly who killed the three victims.

However, Wanlop stated that according to Paiboon Noipeng, Udon Wannasing, and Pol Sen Sgt Maj Chatree Usaram, three witnesses who were in close proximity to Hiroyuki when he was shot, gunshots were heard and flashes of light from gunfire were seen from the direction of the military when the cameraman was killed.

Paiboon, a red-shirt protester, shown a video with pictures of himself, Hiroyuki, and another victim, Wasan, recorded at the scene, reported that he was approximately three metres away from Hiroyuki when he was killed to confirm his testimony.

Chatree reported that he was about a metre away from Hiroyuki and rushed to help the victim when he was shot. The blood stain on Chatree’s trousers was later confirmed to be Hiroyuki’s blood.

Moreover, five other witnesses, one of which is Pol Lt Col Wipoj Apornrak, an ex-member of the parliament and one of the red-shirt leaders, reported that Wasan and Todsachai were also killed when gunshots from the military side were heard.  

More than 90 people died and over 2000 people were injured during the brutal military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in April-May 2010, authorized by ex-Deputy Prime Minister from the Democrat Party Suthep Thaugsuban and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Four years after the April-May 2010 crack-down, the Criminal Court has ruled on 30 deaths in a total of 20 cases concerning those killed in the massacre. According to the rulings, 18 out of the 30 people were killed by bullets coming from the military. These include Fabio Polenghi, an Italian photo-journalist, Kunakorn Srisuwan, a 13-year-old child, Pan Kamkong, a red-shirt taxi driver, and many others. However, none of the inquests specified the individual army officers responsible for the deaths.

Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court will hold another hearing on 28 November to rule on the circumstances of the deaths of the three.