Panel seeks judicial inquiry into nine more rally deaths

A panel of investigators has agreed to seek a judicial inquiry into nine more deaths during the 2010 red-shirt riots.

This brings the total number of deaths in the capital suspected to have been caused by security forces to 36 out of 89.

Chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) Tarit Pengdith said the panel reviewed the nine deaths and found credible evidence they may have died as a result of government actions.

Mr Tarit said the findings will be submitted to the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) for autopsies and then forwarded to the Criminal Court for an inquiry.

The panel is made up of investigators from three agencies _ the DSI, the Royal Thai Police and the state attorney. It is tasked with investigating the 89 deaths that occurred in Bangkok during the red-shirt protests in April and May 2010.

The nine victims were killed in five separate incidents: Pornsawan Nakachai and Mana Sanprasert were both found dead in front of Soi Ngam Duplee on May 15, 2010; Sgt Pongchalit Pittayanonkarn was killed outside Bangkok Bank's Silom branch on May 17; Somsak Silarak, Piyapong Kittiwong, and Prachuab Silarak were found dead in Lumpini Park on May 14; Narin Seechompu was also found slain in the park on May 19; and Tawin Kammoon and an unidentified Thai male who died at Chulalongkorn Hospital on May 19.

According to Mr Tarit, the DSI will combine the court findings with its earlier investigation reports to identify the causes of the deaths and who should be held accountable for them.

"The court rulings will help avert a conflict between colour-coded political groups and a 'who is right and who is wrong' argument," he said.

Mr Tarit also said the Criminal Court will on Sept 17 rule on the death of Phan Khamkong, the first of the 89 deaths to be reviewed by the court.

Phan, a 44-year-old taxi driver from Yasothon, was shot on the night of May 15 in the Ratchaprarop area. He allegedly died at the hands of state forces.

Pol Maj Gen Anuchai Lekbamrung, MPB deputy commissioner, said yesterday of the total number of cases sent by the DSI, the bureau has completed autopsies on 20 and forwarded the results to the prosecution for submission to the court. He said three deaths are pending further investigation _ those of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, Sayam Wattananukul, and Charoon Chaiman.

About the author

Writer: King-oua Laohong
Position: Reporter