CPJ Blasts Thai Investigation of Journalists’ Deaths
The Committee to Protect Journalists has concluded that the Thai government has "done little to bring anyone to account" for the deaths of dozens of people and injuries of hundreds at anti-government protests in Bangkok this past spring.
Among the dead were freelance photographer Fabio Polenghi of Italy and Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto of Japan. The CPJ called the Thai government's investigation of those deaths "incomplete and opaque." The CPJ also accused the Thai government of obstructing efforts by news organizations, foreign governments, and family members to investigate the journalists' deaths independently.
CPJ says a Thai government fact-finding committee has stated publicly that it doesn't intend to assign blame for the deaths, making it unlikely that security forces will be held accountable for any abuses.
The violence erupted after government troops moved in to downtown Bangkok to forcibly remove protesters, who had occupied sections of the city for weeks in an effort to topple Thailand's dictatorship.
Security forces denied using lethal force except for self defense, and protest organizers said demonstrators were peaceful and unarmed. But CPJ concludes that "both sides engaged in lethal recklessness that led to the deaths of two journalists along with injuries to nine other reporters and photographers."
CPJ says its findings were based on extensive interviews with journalists at the scene.
Polenghi died of a gunshot wound May 19 while documenting police efforts to dislodge the protesters. CPJ says the photographer's family has been given conflicting information about the location of his wounds. (Polenghi was cremated before his family saw his body) They repeatedly requested an official autopsy report, without success, and they report that his camera, cell phone and other belongings are still missing.
Reuters investigated Muramoto's death and concluded he was killed by a high velocity bullet shot from street level. Protesters and security forces alike were using high velocity weapons, so it is unclear who is responsible for his death, CPJ says.
CPJ's full report is available here.