Agency finds protesters responsible for deaths
An initial investigation by the Department of Special Investigation into the deaths of 89 people during the April-May riots has found some victims were killed by red shirt members and related groups.
Ninety-two people were killed in the unrest, but the DSI is investigating only 89 cases. Suspects have been arrested in the case of two of the other fatalities and the third fatality occurred after the DSI began its inquiries.
The agency has completed its inquiries into 18 cases so far and concluded that 12 people were killed by members of the red shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and its support militia, DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said. They included Col Romklao Thuwatham, former deputy chief-of-staff of the 2nd Infantry Regiment, Sgt Anuphon Hommalee, Cpl Anuphong Muang-amphan, Pvt Phuriwat Praphan and Pvt Singha Onsong.
The six other victims were killed by unknown gunmen. The DSI could not identify whether they were gunned down by members of the UDD, unidentified militants or the government’s security forces, he said.
The six cases involve Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto; Pvt Narongrit Sala, who was shot dead during clashes on Vipavadi Rangsit Road; Mana Atran, who was shot at Dusit Zoo; and the bodies of three dead people found inside Wat Pathum Wanaram.
Red shirt leader and Puea Thai Party MP Jatuporn Prompan responded to the initial findings yesterday by insisting that Col Romklao was not killed by any member of the UDD or its support militia.
Mr Jatuporn said he knew a red shirt supporter who tried to help Col Romklao on April 10 but was himself later shot and partially paralysed.
He said the man insisted Col Romklao was shot by a soldier behind an armoured vehicle, not by red shirt militants.
Kanit Na Nakorn, chairman of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, yesterday called on the government to seek the court’s approval for the temporary release of red shirt detainees.
The commission said in a petition submitted to the cabinet yesterday that the release of red shirt detainees would be an effective measure towards national reconciliation.
Section 39 of the constitution stipulates that a suspect in a criminal case should be presumed innocent and not be treated as a convicted criminal, he said.
The temporary release was also in line with the Criminal Procedural Code which stipulates that if there was no evidence of escape or imminent danger if the suspect was released, further detaining the suspect would affect his rights in defending himself and in returning to his family, Mr Kanit said.
The TRC chairman said there were increasing doubts over the legitimacy of the detention of red shirt supporters.
There have also been, in many cases, excessive charges, whirlwind arrest of those not involved in violent activities, long imprisonment and indecent treatment of detainees, the TRC’s letter said.
The prolonged practice would certainly undermine public faith in the justice system, the letter said