CHIANGRAI TIMES – A Thai court on Monday opened an inquest into the death of a Japanese cameraman during a street battle between soldiers and anti-government protesters in Bangkok two years ago.
The Bangkok Southern Criminal Court heard prosecution claims that Hiroyuki Muramoto, a cameraman for Thomson Reuters, was shot dead by soldiers on April 10, 2010, while filming the conflict in the old part of the capital.
The court also opened similar cases in the deaths of four Thai protesters killed on the same day.
The prosecution intends to prove that their deaths were caused by the military, which had been called in to disperse a demonstration led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship that had seized the neighbourhood for weeks.
“These cases are expected to take a long time because they will involve many witnesses and a lot of evidence,” the chief prosecutor told the court.
About 25 people died in the April 10 melee, including six soldiers. From April 10 to May 19, the day the 2010 demonstration was crushed, an estimated 92 people were killed including a dozen soldiers and police.
No official has been held responsible in the killings.
Human Rights Watch‘s Thailand representative Sunai Pasuk welcomed the opening of the inquests Monday but expressed scepticism about their outcomes.
“The trials are not for prosecution but to establish the cause of death,” Sunai said. “The outcomes could be used by the relatives of the victims to file new cases against those culpable, but this is going to take a long time.”
Hiroyuki was one of two foreign journalists killed in the 2010 protests.
Italian freelance photographer Fabio Polenghi was shot during the May 19 crackdown on the protesters known as “red shirts” that had occupied parts of central Bangkok for more than a month. Polenghi‘s inquest is to open July 23.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of red shirts returned to central Bangkok to commemorate the crackdown and call on the government to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths. dpa sk pj lns tlo Authors: Somchai Kwankijswet and Peter Janssen