Updated: DSI supports army

27 02 2011

The Bangkok Post reveals that, following a “visit to complain about an initial department [Department of Special Investigation] finding which claimed … that soldiers … be blamed for Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto’s death during the rally at Khok Wua intersection on April 10 last year,” the DSI has conveniently changed its report.

The army is said to be “breathing a sigh of relief after a … [DSI] report concluded troops were not responsible for the death…”.

Of course DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit claims to stand by the latest report, “saying it was based on scientific and forensic findings. He also denied meeting the army chief of staff.” He claims that the unreleased report “found that the Reuters News Agency cameraman was shot dead with an AK-47 rifle while covering the clashes.”

Tharit “said Muramoto’s body was found with AK-47 bullet wound patterns. Soldiers had not used the weapon…”. Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd found it necessary to state that “soldiers did not use AK-47 rifles that day…”.

Does that mean they do use the weapon? Apparently it does: a source “said the army had imported about 20,000 AK-47 rifles into the country two decades ago.” They remain in use and storage with the army.

It is no surprise to learn that the army likes the convenient report.

The Post reminds readers that the “new findings contradict an earlier finding by the DSI which indicated that troops were probably responsible for Muramoto’s death.” It adds:

An army source said the military was not satisfied with the first conclusion and assigned army chief of staff Dapong Rattanasuwan to meet the DSI chief Tharit about two weeks ago to clear up the matter.

The army and DSI appear to have sorted the matter out to their mutual satisfaction. The impunity continues.

Update: Red shirt lawyer Robert Amsterdam has commented on what he calls a “predictable” change by the political police at DSI.

 

 





Updated: DSI needs a silent Jatuporn

27 12 2010

It is no coincidence that on the very day that petitions have been filed on behalf of the seven red-shirt leaders seeking their release on bail that the Department of Special Investigation seeks to have red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan locked up.

Those seeking bail have been locked up since May, and have certainly been forcibly silenced. And, if the case of Veera Musigapong is anything to go by, one of the bail conditions – if they get it – will be that they have to remain silent on politics.

Jatuporn

Jatuporn is on bail due to his status as a parliamentarian, and he has certainly been defiant and outspoken. Most recently he has been associated with several leaked documents that show DSI investigations pointing at army responsibility for many of the murders of protesters in April and May (see here, here and here as examples). The only surprising thing about these leaks is that the DSI is apparently saying this. As a political police their public face has been one of complete denial.

One piece of fallout for the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has been the continuing pressure from the Japanese government. Yesterday a “senior Japanese embassy official on Monday met Thai Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Ongart Klampaiboon urging the Thai investigators to speed up their probe into the death of a Japanese cameraman killed in April during the Red Shirt protests.” The leaked documents indicate he was killed by the army.

In the face of the leaked reports and very reliable observations regarding political interference in the judicial process, the government relies on mumblings the legal process needing to be followed and how the government wanted to find the “truth.” Of course, in the royalist regime’s Orwellian world, truth is pretty much a manufacture: Minister Ongart Klampaiboon carefully added: “The investigation should carried out cautiously to avoid any adverse impact on any particular party…”. PPT assumes he means the government and military.

So it is that DSI boss Tharit Pengdit seeks to have Jatuporn’s bail withdrawn. As The Nation explains it, Tharit has “claimed that Jatuporn, … who is charged with terrorism had broken the bail conditions set by the court. Jatuporn allegedly posed a threat to the safety of witnesses and tampered with evidence and witnesses. In addition, he allegedly threatened the state investigators and obstructed their work. Moreover Jatuporn had confused the public by wrongly claiming its investigators of preparing an investigation report of the killing of six people sheltering at Wat Pathumwanaram near Ratchaprasong on May 19 and the death of Hiroyuki Muramoto, Japanese cameraman working for Reuters news agency, the petition said.” In the MCOT News report, “Tharit said whether the document leaked by Mr Jatuporn was genuine or not, the DSI viewed his move as violating the law.”

In other words, Jatuporn must be silenced, and the way to do this is to have him jailed. Tharit tried to have bail revoked earlier in the month but this move failed. So he is trying again.

The Bangkok Post includes some details of the court hearing: “The court began considering the request at 2pm. During the hearing, Mr Tharit gave testimony to justify the request. Defence lawyers were allowed to attend the session and cross-examine Mr Tharit, but were not allowed to bring defence witness to testify. The court later said it would make a ruling on the DSI’s request tomorrow at 11am.” It has not been unusual in recent years for the courts to refuse to hear defense witnesses.

Helpfully for the courts and DSI, “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he personally felt Mr Jatuporn had acted inappropriately with the on intention of creating unrest in the country while on bail.”

Meanwhile, and understandably, Jatuporn is reported to have “lashed out at Mr Tharit’s move to revoke his bail, saying the DSI chief was trying to gag him…”. He added that this “was the DSI’s fourth attempt to have his bail withdrawn following his disclosure of what he said was fresh evidence about the government forces’ crackdown on red-shirt demonstrators in May.”

He added that he hoped “court would give him justice so he could ensure the truth came out. He said he had a team of lawyers ready  present a case to confirm the authenticity of his documents if the court allowed the examination of evidence. He said would reveal the documents in parliament.”

DSI and the government certainly want to stop Jatuporn.

Update: DSI and the government can claim a partial success in getting the courts to shut up Jatuporn. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Tuesday dismissed the Department of Special Investigation’s(DSI) request to withdraw bail for United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship core member Jatuporn Prompan.” That’s the reason for “partial” as they didn’t get him locked up. However, the court has “prohibited Mr Jatuporn from any involvement in a political gathering of five and more people and from disseminating political information which may cause damage to legal cases involving UDD protests.” This means that Jatuporn can only speak of matters political in parliament. Another red shirt leader is effectively silenced by a repressive regime.





Further updated: More on leaks from DSI

24 12 2010

In The Nation there is a story regarding apparently more leaked documents from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) that again “appear to place the blame for most of the deaths in the April-May military crackdown firmly on the military.” It is not immediately clear if these documents are different from those earlier leaked to Reuters. It may be the same set of reports, although The Nation appears to provide additional details.

The Nation claims that this “set of documents, purported to be investigation reports by the DSI, covered the deaths of 16 people killed in demonstrations between April and May. The reports conclude that the deaths of at least 13 of these victims were ‘likely caused by soldiers’…”.

The Nation says it received the reports “from a reliable source who asked not to be identified, [and] were cross-checked and confirmed as being authentic by at least one witness, German photographer Nicolas Nostitz, who was interrogated by the DSI.” Like the earlier reports obtained by Reuters, these “10 case reports covering 16 deaths include a DSI conclusion that the death of Japanese photographer Hiroyuki Muramoto of Reuters News Agency on April 10 ‘likely occurred from the actions of Army officer(s) acting on their duty”. Likewise for “three of six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram on the evening of May 19…”.

The source of the leaked document “told The Nation that all the files, both in Thai and English, would be uploaded on a yet-to-be-identified site by today.”

Update 1: Apparently the leaking of DSI reports is motivating red shirt protests. The Nation reports on about “300 red-shirt people staged a noisy protest in front of the 3rd Special Warfare Regiment Friday morning. The protesters cited the leaked reports of the Department of Special Investigation as the cause for the protest.” The protesters “shouted loudly that troops killed innocent people. Some shouted that troops were trained just to kill people. They laid black wreaths with the names of Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and some troops mentioned by the DSI reports in front of the regiment. They earlier laid black wreaths with the names of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and DSI Director-General Tharit Pengdit in front of the provincial hall.”

Update 2: The DSI remains miffed by their leakiness. In The Nation it is reported that DSI boss Tharit has decided to further attack Puea Thai Party politician and red shirt leader. The logic is that the DSI will file additional charges “related to his recent attempts to sway the investigation by fabricating evidence and making false remarks, DSI director general Tharit Pengdit said yesterday. Tharit was speaking in reference to Jatuporn’s involvement in distributing what he claimed to be the leaked DSI reports in connection with riots in April and May.” Tharit comes up with this little piece of nonsense: “Since Jatuporn admitted himself he did not get the reports from DSI, this is tantamount to a confession to fabricating evidence…”. Did we say “logic”? There’s more here too.





Japanese embassy says DSI documents are real

15 12 2010

MCOT News has an interesting take on a more than 1-hour meeting between a Japanese embassy official and police chief Wichien Potposri.  Nobuaki Ito, Minister of Political Affairs at the Japanese embassy sought the meeting “to ask the Thai authorities to speed up their investigation into the death of a Japanese cameraman killed during Red Shirt protest.”

The police chief revealed that”Mr Ito came to hand over the document received from Puea Thai Party list MP and UDD leader Jatuporn Promphan…”. He said Ito “told him that initially the Japanese government believed that the document was real even though the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said the document did not tally with the findings of the Thai authorities.” Further, Ito “asked Thailand to speed up its investigation with discretion and fairness…”.

That position is significantly different from the government response in recent days. It looks like the ball is back in the government’s court.





With a major update: Reneging on the emergency decree and DSI reports

15 12 2010

PPT is falling behind on posting as events in Thailand heat up or at least speed up. Two important trends deserve brief mention and readers can follow-up on these via the links we provide.

The first is the earlier report that the emergency decree in Bangkok and areas close by was going to rescinded after many months. That seems to still be the case. However, the forces of a hierarchical, authoritarian kind in the military and related places seem unhappy with this. Recent reports, however, suggest that getting rid of emergency rule means instituting the Internal Security Act. In the Bangkok Post it is reported that the “Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation and the army are seeking the imposition of the Internal Security Act when the emergency decree is lifted in Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.”

The report points out that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva motivation for ending emergency rule is that he “wants to restore the country’s image in the face of intense domestic and international pressure…”. However CRES and the military want no change in Bangkok. In fact, “Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, as the CRES director, and army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), would propose that if the emergency decree is lifted before the New Year then it be replaced by the ISA so officers operating under the security law would be given legal immunity.” The ISA also “empowers security officers to detain suspects for seven days without charge. The emergency decree allows authorities up to 30 days to hold suspects for questioning.”

What’s the big threat? Easy: “Gen Prayuth is said to be more concerned about which law would be used to close websites deemed offensive to the monarchy after the emergency decree is lifted.” So the emergency decree has really been about protecting the monarchy.

The second issue relates to the leaked reports said to be from the Department of Special Investigation. MCOT News reports that after first admitting that the leaks were from DSI reports (see Update 2, here), DSI chief Tharit Pengdit has now decided that “the integrity of his agency’s investigative documents relating to the case of a Japanese photo journalist killed during the confrontation between government troops and anti-government Red Shirt protesters in April, asserting that they were not leaked as earlier claimed by a key protest leader.” That’s Jatuporn Promphan as well as by Reuters.

Tharit now insists that “the documents that Mr Jatuporn had referred to, as seen in media, carried significantly different information from those of the DSI.” And he’s alos said that DSI will never release all of its results.

Startlingly, Tharit stated that after 8 months, the “investigation on the death of Mr Hiroyuki [Muramoto] … is still at the first step which is an autopsy by local police.” How it that even conceivable? It seems because DSI now claims that this case and all of those at Wat Pathum Wanaram have been  “sent back to National Police Bureau to conduct the autopsy…”. Read our recent post on the disappeared to get a feeling for police work that is meant to guarantee immunity and impunity for the state’s killers.

Update: Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha has never believed these nasty stories about red shirts being killed by the army….  This from Prachatai: Prayuth “dismissed Jatuporn’s allegations that the army was involved in killing red shirts, saying that he paid no attention to it and had never believed anything Jatuporn said. Let the justice process deal with the issue of the deaths of red shirts, and the army will not explain anything.” Hmm. Wasn’t it Prayuth who was in charge of the operations at Pan Fah Bridge and at Rajaprasong that resulted in all the deaths and injuries? Didn’t he give the orders on “free fire zones” and snipers?

Prayuth was apparently responding to Jatuporn’s claims to the media, as reported in the Bangkok Post. Jatuporn stated that: “Five soldiers from the Special Warfare Centre in Lop Buri have confessed to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) that they fired shots into the grounds of Wat Pathumwanaram from the Bangkok Mass Transit rail track on May 19…”. He went on to “dare… Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, and army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to make public the testimony given to the DSI by the five soldiers.” Jatuporn also claimed that there “had been attempts by influential figures in the government and the military to interfere in the DSI investigation…”.

 





DSI report unacceptable

26 11 2010

The Bangkok Post reports that the Abhisit Vejjajiva political police known as the Department of Special Investigation hasdecided that “security forces were involved in the deaths of 13 of 89 people killed during the red shirt rally earlier this year…”. Yes, that’s 13, not 33 or 83.

The report on the unbelievable 13 includes “Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto, Pvt Narongrit Sala, who was shot during clashes on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, and Mana Atran, who was shot at Dusit Zoo, and three people found dead inside Wat Pathum Wanaram _ Rop Suksathit, Mongkol Kemtong and Suwan Sriraksa.”

Some might be pleased to note that the DSI has finally admitted that security forces shot anyone and are now willing to include the obvious case of Wat Pathum Wanaram. However, the idea that the well-armed snipers and other troops are only responsible for 13 deaths will be met with derision.

But even if this is a “leak” and requires verification by the police. DSI continues to say that its “autopsies are not complete and not clear as to which side was responsible for the deaths…”.





DSI releases “details” of its “investigations”

17 11 2010

The Bangkok Post headline for its story on the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) report on its so-called initial investigation – 6 months in the making – “into the deaths of 89 people during the April-May riots…” is “DSI links red shirts to killings. Agency finds protesters responsible for deaths” and its nternet story heading is: “UDD Blamed.”

This is yet another example of the curious bias in the mainstream media. Why are they “riots”? At the time of the army crackdowns in April and May, neither demonstration could have been called a “riot.”  Why just 18 results released and why are these all apparently related to red shirt “activity”? Why doesn’t the Post ask serious questions of DSI and the government?

The investigation by DSI is said to be “into the deaths of 89 people.” What happened to at least 3 other deaths widely reported. Many media reports say 92 were  killed and the Post even published the details of the 90th and 91st victims some time ago. It says in this report: “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.” Is that at all logical?

The DSI is said to have “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…”. Those 6 cases include: “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.”

Is there a pattern here? Only so-called UDD responsibility can be determined (and how is that done?) but not for others? Is anyone going to be able to take any DSI report seriously?





Updated: DSI on the job

3 09 2010

Following its pathetic report a week or so ago on the deaths of 91 people, mainly red-shirt protesters,  associated with the Battle for Bangkok in April and May 2010, the “Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has set up 12 investigation teams to seek facts on the 89 deaths…”. It might help if they could get the number right. So DSI is now really on the job as opposed to pretending to be on the job before this?

MCOT News states that Tharit Pengdit, the boss of Thailand’s political police known as DSI, has told reporters that DSI will have a result in 45 days.There is another press conference promised for the end of this new period of investigation.

Tharit claims that his 12 teams of investigators will focus on 12 incidents, with the greatest attention to “high-profile cases involving six people shot dead at Wat Pathumwanaram near Ratchaprasong intersection, the main protest venue; the death of Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol or Seh Daeng, an Army specialist general; Japanese photographer Hiro Muramoto and Italian reporter Fabio Polenghi.”

In the theater of the absurd that is Thailand’s current politics, “Tharit said the investigators would try to find out who killed the victims and how they were killed.” PPT wonders what they were investigating up to this point? We realize that lese majeste cases take up much of Tharit’s time, but this seems like an empty-headed statement. That is followed by an assurance that: “No specific results have been determined in advance … adding that the DSI wanted to establish the truth, without distortion, and reveal the facts to the public.”

Update: Tharit is under pressure elsewhere. Read about it in the Bangkok Post.





Further updated: Autopsy results shed little light on protest deaths

23 08 2010

According to a report in The Nation regarding the 91 deaths associated with red shirt protests and the government crackdowns: “Autopsies on 89 Thais, including 11 policemen and soldiers, confirmed that all had died from bullet wounds.” The two foreign journalists – the Japanese Hiroyuki Muramoto and Italian Fabio Polenghi, which just a couple of days ago the Department of Special Investigation said were incomplete, also shows death by bullet wounds. In their cases it is now stated that they were killed by high-velocity bullets. The Bangkok Post story cited below claims that the DSI knows the weapons used in these two cases. It does not report what weapons they were.

The interesting thing about this brief report is the statement that all 91 died of bullet wounds. PPT wonders if this can be correct when at least one of those killed was Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, who received a royally-attended funeral way back in April and was said at the time to have been targeted by an M79 grenade.

The Bangkok Post report is probably accurate when it states that the DSI has made “little progress.” In fact, after all this time, the DSI “cannot at this stage reach a finding in its investigation into the deaths of 91 people killed in the violence between April 10 and May 21…”. The same report states that the DSI also states that it “… cannot yet disclose details on the individual autopsies of those killed. We have not obtained all the information needed and many pieces of the jigsaw are still missing.  We can only say that we will establish the truth. For now, we cannot yet make an overall conclusion on the death of the 91 people. We need more time to investigate in order to know who caused the deaths…”.

Then this curious addendum: “The DSI deputy chief called for the mass media to give the authorities concerned justice, saying that not all of the 91 were killed by the authorities because ‘armed men in black’ were also involved in the violent incidents during the prolonged anti-government protests.” Sounds very much like the things that were said at the time. Has really no progress been made?

Update 1: See the report in The Nation, where human rights activists and relatives of those killed condemn the DSI’s “report.” Some relatives pointed to DSI’s politicization and Human Rights Watch Thailand researcher Sunai Phasuk is quoted as saying that “he was not satisfied with the DSI’s announcement of the preliminary autopsy results, as there was no information about cause of death or the type of weapons that killed victims during the clashes.” More here.

Update 2: The Thai Report has a bunch of useful stories linked on the DSI’s report.





Red shirt protester autopsy reports to be released

21 08 2010

The Nation reports that the Justice Ministry will, on Monday, “announce the autopsy results of red-shirt protesters killed during the clashes with troops…”. That’s according to top political cop at the Department of Special Investigation, Tharit Pengdit. Tharit claims the “autopsies were carried out by officials of each jurisdiction area and the results were compiled by the Metropolitan Police Bureau for the DSI.”

PPT assumes he means for all clashes during April and May, because while Tharit says “autopsy results of all protesters had been complete”, his deputy revealed that “investigations into the killings of a Japanese reporter [Hiroyuki Muramoto] and Italian reporter [Fabio Polenghi] have not been completed yet.”

The release of the reports is bound to unleash a series of controversial accounts and recriminations. It does seem odd that the reports on the two journalists, one killed in April, are taking longer than those for red shirt protesters.