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Thailand Opens Inquest on Italian Photographer’s Death



Polenghi was shot as he tried to take pictures of the army’s assault on the encampment of Red Shirts


Chiangrai Times – An inquest began Monday into the death of an Italian photographer killed two years ago as troops quashed a protest by anti-government “Red Shirts” who had occupied a central Bangkok intersection for several weeks.

The sister of slain photojournalist Fabio Polenghi was one of two witnesses to testify in the effort to see who was responsible for the killing on May 19, 2010. Elisabetta Polenghi has visited Thailand several times since her brother’s death to try to secure justice.

Polenghi was shot as he tried to take pictures of the army’s assault on the encampment of Red Shirts, who wanted then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down. At least 91 people were killed during two months of political violence that swept through the Thai capital. They included two journalists, Polenghi and Reuters cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto.

The government that succeeded Abhisit’s — led by a party that was allied with the Red Shirts — agreed in March to pay compensation to all the victims of violence in order to promote political reconciliation.

Several investigations, including some by police, determined that many victims were probably killed by soldiers, but no definitive legal findings have been made. Separate public and private investigations into the deaths of the journalists found that evidence suggested they were killed by government forces, but they were not conclusive.

Polenghi, who was 48, had been a fashion photographer for many years but was transitioning to news. He was shot on a main street through which soldiers advanced toward the main Red Shirt camp.

Elisabetta Polenghi came to Bangkok soon after her brother’s death, and has returned several times to seek the truth about what happened. The failure to pin blame has left her frustrated.

“I don’t know what to say about a cover-up but I would say that they’ve been doing everything to slow things down and make the investigation very difficult,” she told The Associated Press on Monday, referring to Thailand’s bureaucracy. “It has been very hard for the investigation to start. I don’t know if they’ve been covering something up.”

Her testimony along with that of a policeman on Monday set out basic facts of the case and what her brother was doing in Bangkok. The inquest will hear from 36 witnesses in all and may take many months to reach a verdict.


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