No justice for Japanese cameraman, 2 red-shirt protesters killed during 2010 political violence

The Criminal Court ruled that no evidence can indicate who was responsible for the deaths of a Japanese cameraman and two red shirts who died during violence in April-May 2010.

Bangkok’s Southern Criminal Court on Thursday morning started another trial concerning 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.

At the trial, the court ruled that there is insufficient evidence to identify the people responsible for the deaths or to pinpoint the direction of the bullets which killed the three.

During a witness examination hearing in the case in November 2014, Pol Lt Gen Wanlop Prathummuang of the Logistic Office of the Royal Thai Police assigned by the DSI to investigate the case, testified that according to the visual evidence and eyewitnesses 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 him or the other victims.

From left to right, Hiroyuki Muramoto, Wasan Phutai, and Todsachai Maekngamfa (file photo) 

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

In September 2013, the Criminal Court ruled during a witness examination hearing into the deaths of two other red shirt protesters who were killed at the same spot around the same time as the three, that the two were shot by bullets fired from the direction of military officers, who were retreating from Satriwithaya School to a street adjacent to Bovornivet Temple.

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 former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, both from the Democrat Party.

In the five years since 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, and Pan Kamkong, a red-shirt taxi driver. However, none of the inquests specified the individual army officers responsible for the deaths.