A French journalist insisted Monday that the King's Guard unit which he followed during the army's crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010 was not responsible for the deaths of six people at Wat Pathumwanaram.
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Relatives of the victims who were killed at Wat Pathumwanaram display photos of their loved ones. Six civilians including a female nurse were shot dead inside the temple on May 19, 2010, the final day of the violence. (File photo by Bangkok Post)
Journalist puts troops in clear
King's Guard did not kill civilians, witness says
A French journalist insisted Monday that a military unit which he followed during the army's crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010 was not responsible for the deaths of six people at Wat Pathumwanaram.
Olivier Rotrou, 48, owner of Line Press photography company in France, has returned to Thailand to testify on March 28 at an inquest into the temple deaths.
Speaking to the Bangkok Post Monday, Mr Rotrou said he could not tell if the six deaths were caused by other soldiers or the so-called "men in black". He could only confirm it was not the work of the King's Guard Infantry Unit of the Third Regiment, which he had followed on the day of the crackdown.
Like many journalists, Mr Rotrou said he had followed soldiers from the Silom-Sala Daeng intersection on the morning of May 19, 2010, during their mission to clear red-shirt protesters from Ratchaprasong intersection.
He returned to his hotel about noon before joining the King's Guard unit at MBK shopping centre in the afternoon.
The unit headed for Siam Square from Pathumwan intersection about 5pm. Mr Rotrou said that by the time the soldiers reached Siam Theatre, the building had already burnt down.
The journalist said he was with the unit when they arrested two suspected shoplifters on their way towards Wat Pathumwanaram.
The team then moved slowly towards the temple after hearing gunfire coming from an unknown location.
About 7pm, the soldiers decided to withdraw after nearing the intersection of Henri Dunant and Rama I roads because it had become too dark.
"We carefully retreated into the Novotel area. On the way there, a grenade was fired and exploded near where I was sitting, destroying a bottle of water which the military had just given to me," he said. He did not think the grenade was fired by other soldiers.
Mr Rotrou said he took refuge inside the lobby of the Novotel along with some of the hotel staff.
"The infantry unit also stayed around the Novotel until the morning," he said.
Mr Rotrou said he left Siam Square about 6.30am and flew out of Thailand later the same day.
He said an army colonel in charge of the military unit emailed to ask him to testify in court and show video footage from the May 19 operation.
He said he would testify the soldiers in the unit he had travelled with were not involved in the deaths of the six people at Wat Pathumwanaram.
Mr Rotrou will testify to the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court on March 28.
His video record of the May 19 operation is also expected to be used at the inquest into the death of Italian journalist Fabio Polenghi, who was shot on Ratchadamri Road the same day.
relative – a member of your family ญาติพี่น้อง
victims – people who are killed injured or harmed in some way from an accident, natural disaster, crime, etc. เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
civilian – someone who does not belong to the armed forces or the police พลเรือน
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง, การใช้กำลังทำลาย
witness – a person who sees something happen ผู้ที่เห็นเหตุการณ
journalist – a person who writes news stories or articles for a newspaper or magazine or broadcasts them on radio or television ผู้สื่อข่าว
troops – soldiers, especially in large numbers กองทหาร
insist – to keep saying very firmly that something is true ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
unit – a group of people who work or live together, especially for a particular purpose หน่วย,กอง,กลุ่ม
crackdown – strong action that someone in authority takes to stop a particular activity การใช้กำลังเข้าปราบปรามของเจ้าหน้าที่
protester – someone who shows that they disagree with something by standing somewhere, shouting, carrying signs, etc ผู้ต่อต้าน, ผู้ประท้วง
responsible for – deserving to be blamed for something that has happened มีความรับผิดชอบ
testify – to make a statement about something that you saw, know, or experienced, usually in a court of law or an official investigation ให้การเป็นพยาน
inquest – an official investigation to find out the cause of somebody's death, especially when it has not happened naturally การพิจารณาคดี' (โดยเฉพาะที่เกี่ยวกับการชันสูตรศพ)
so-called – used for saying that a particular word is usually used for referring to someone or something ดังที่เรีัยกกัน
infantry – soldiers who fight on foot, not on horses or in tanks or other vehicles ทหารราบ
regiment – a large group of soldiers กรมทหาร, กองทหาร
intersection – a place where roads, lines, etc., join or cross each other สี่แยก
mission – an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do ภาระกิจ, หน้าที่, งาน
arrest – (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime จับกุม
suspected – thought to have done something wrong เป็นที่สงสัย
shoplifter – someone who commits the crime of stealing goods from a shop/store by deliberately leaving without paying for them คนขโมยของตามร้าน
withdraw – to move out or back ถอนตัวจาก
retreat – to move back or away ถอยกลับ
grenade – a small bomb that someone throws or fires from a gun ลูกระเบิดเล็ก
take refuge – to go to a place which provides protection or shelter from danger or trouble ลี้ภัย
lobby – a large area inside the entrance of a public building where people can meet and wait ห้องโถง,ทางเข้า, ซุ้มประตู, ห้องรับรอง
colonel – an officer of high rank in the army, the marines, or the air force พันเอก
footage – film or video of a particular subject or event ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ
operation – a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers การปฏิบัติการ