ASTV boss clears army over gunfire

The chief executive officer of ASTV-Manager Group Jittanart Limthongkul does not believe soldiers were involved in Saturday's gun attack on four cars belonging to ASTV Manager newspaper.

  • Published: 29/01/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

The dispute between the newspaper and army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha had already been cleared up, Mr Jittanart, son of Sondhi Limthongkul, a yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader said yesterday.

The attack took place just two weeks after a war of words broke out between ASTV Manager and Gen Prayuth.

A gunman or gunmen fired a shot at each of the four cars parked in front of the ASTV office near Santi Chaiprakan Park on Phra Athit Road. No one was hurt in the shooting.

The newspaper earlier criticised Gen Prayuth over what it perceived to be his failure to stand up for the country's interests in the Preah Vihear temple dispute with Cambodia. Soldiers rallied in front of the newspaper's office on Jan 11 and 12 to oppose the paper's criticism of the army chief.

Mr Jittanart suggested a close aide of a powerful figure who wielded influence in the police force might be involved in Saturday's attack. He declined to reveal the name of the influential figure.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha also denied soldiers were involved in the gun attack.

Gen Prayuth yesterday said his soldiers had nothing to do with the shooting and he never encouraged his men to use violence.

"I never support such forms of violence as it goes against the law," he said.

The army chief appeared upset when asked if he was certain there were no rogue soldiers involved in the shooting early on Saturday.

"None [of the soldiers] were involved," he said in a loud voice. "Let the investigation go forward. Anyone involved must be arrested," he added.

Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang yesterday said the investigation has progressed considerably.

He spoke after a meeting with police investigators handling the case. The investigation team earlier inspected the shooting scene and checked footage from CCTV cameras at the newspaper's office and from nearby areas.

Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit said suspects, including a taxi driver, a passer-by and a motorcycle driver who were in the area at the time of the shooting had been summonsed for questioning. All denied any involvement.

The city police chief said the investigation team and forensic officers would be sent to the attack scene again to prepare mock-up situations and examine CCTV cameras to find out the bullet trajectories and possible clues.

Police had questioned two security guards of the newspaper who were standing only 15 metres away from the last car which was shot at.

Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit questioned why the two guards had not heard the sound of the gunshots.

Deputy city police chief Pol Maj Gen Prinya Chansuriya said police have not ruled out any possible motives.

He was optimistic the officers might find further evidence when they went to the shooting scene again during the mock-up situations.

The drivers of all four cars would be summonsed for questioning, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Wicharnwat Borirakkul, commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1, said police were working with ASTV executives and other people concerned, including the drivers of the four cars.

They would be interrogated by police from the Chana Songkhram police station.

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