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Security forces blamed for last year's fatal shooting of Japanese cameraman

Security forces blamed for last year’s fatal shooting of Japanese cameraman

Published on Wednesday 30 November 2011.
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Reporters Without Borders takes note of the latest developments in the investigation into the fatal shooting of Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto in Bangkok in April 2010, including Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung’s statement about the involvement of the security forces.

“The Thai authorities finally seem determined to shed light on all aspects of this case and to recognize the army’s role in Muramoto’s death,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge them to display the same determination with the investigation into the Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi’s death in May 2010, in which no progress has been made. It continues to be hampered by procedural obstacles and a failure to explore leads.”

During a meeting yesterday with the Japanese ambassador, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm said: “After investigation it is very clear in the case of the Japanese cameraman that it was the act of government security forces. There are eyewitnesses as well as forensic evidence.”

Muramoto, who was working for Reuters, was shot dead during clashes on 10 April 2010 between troops and members of the “Red Shirt” movement, who staged major demonstrations for two months in Bangkok in the spring of 2010.

The Department of Special Investigation said on 24 March of this year that the army could not have been to blame because forensic tests had established that the round that killed Muramoto came from a type of gun that government troops had not been using that day. In April, the DSI suggested that responsibility for the investigation could be “delegated” to Reuters. The latest conclusions were provided jointly by the police and DSI.

Polenghi, a freelance photographer, was fatally shot during an army assault on the “Red Shirt” demonstrators on 19 May 2010. An autopsy confirmed that he was shot in the back. His sister has been trying to move the investigation along with the help of the lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who says there are soldiers ready to testify that orders were given to specifically target journalists. A lèse-majesté complaint was brought against Amsterdam on 12 October.

Amsterdam, who is also former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s lawyer, has also said that: “The number of journalists and stretcher-bearers killed or wounded shows a dramatic lack of concern for the safety of civilians.”

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