Further evidence needed on red shirt deaths

17 09 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that the police are being asked by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung to take over the cases of 13 red shirts killed during the Abhisit Vejjajiva-ordered crackdown on protesters in May 2010. The Department of Special Investigation has (mis)handled the investigations to date.

Chalerm has “instructed the DSI to hand over the reports, after it failed to make progress in investigating the deaths.” In fact, Chalerm argues that DSI has “no authority to conduct autopsies…”. He claimed that the 13 cases had incomplete autopsy reports.

All of this might sound like good news for those who have been concerned that DSI was politically-driven and was deliberately misleading on the events of April and May 2010. We hope it is potentially good news. However, PPT is suspicious. DSI has investigated 89 of the 92 deaths attributed to those events. However, Chalerm’s order is for a new look at only the 13 deaths initially attributed to security forces (although DSI later retracted some of these). That only 13 cases are so attributed is a sick joke. It is worse that Chalerm, who has not sacked Tharit Pengdit, the hopeless political cop who leads DSI, seeks to only investigate the deaths attributed to security forces.

We fear a whitewash. Indeed, the first time the police looked at these 13 cases they concluded that “there was no evidence of soldiers’ alleged involvement in the killings.”

The 13 cases include those of Reuters Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto and may also include the sniper murder of General Khattiya “Seh Daeng” Sawasdipol, and Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi.

Red shirts will hopefully watch Chalerm’s devious actions. Beware the Chalerm whitewash that will further deepen the culture of impunity in Thailand.