DSI insists case of 2010 temple deaths not closed
published : 8 Dec 2018 at 16:31
writer: King-oua Laohong
The Department of Special Investigation says it is still investigating the six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram during the crackdown in Bangkok on red-shirt protesters eight years ago.
DSI chief Paisit Wongmuang was responding to reports that the mother of one of the victims planned to visit the DSI on Wednesday to follow up on the case. Payao Akahart lost her daughter Kamolkate, a volunteer nurse who was killed by military fire while helping wounded people at the monastery on May 19, 2010.
Mr Paisit said he had assigned an official to explain to Mrs Payao about the progress of the investigation and tell her that if the damaged party had additional evidence, the DSI would gladly accept it.
“I insist we’re still working on the case and have not dropped it as claimed. Right now, it is at the stage of finding the perpetrators,” he said.
“However, let’s be clear that a criminal charge can only be filed against an individual who has committed the crime such as Pvt A or Pvt B. It’s not possible to charge an entire military unit.”
A high-ranking source at the Justice Ministry admitted requests had been made to suspend the investigation into the deaths and injuries in the cases involving the crackdown.
“But this doesn’t mean the cases are closed or the investigation is dropped. A further probe can always be made if new evidence is found and prosecutors agreed with the DSI some of the cases should be suspended for now,” the source said.
He added that prosecutors had yet to decide on other cases involving the deaths during the protests, citing as an example the use of an M79 grenade launcher to fire on army officers temporarily based on Dinsor Road in Bangkok, resulting in the death of Gen Romklao Tuwatham.
“There’s credible evidence that someone used an M79 against the soldiers but prosecutors have not decided on the case yet,” the source said. “Nor have they given orders in cases involving skirmishes in a number of places where soldiers were accused of shooting into the protesters.
“The investigators [DSI] have brought photos of soldiers positioned at different spots for the plaintiff witnesses to identify but none of them has shown up.
“This led us to believe bringing up the issue now is politically motivated.”
Mrs Payao on Tuesday submitted a letter to the director-general of the Special Litigation Department under the Attorney-General’s Office to follow up on the case.
Trumph Jalichandra, a deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General, told her that prosecutors had not yet received the case from the DSI.
Mrs Payao told reporters later that she felt the agencies were trying to avoid responsibility so she planned to file lawsuits against both the prosecutors and the DSI for the lack of progress.
Nattapat Akahart, a brother of Kamolkate, said the army had always said the victims were killed by “men in black”, in which case it should also lend a hand to solve the cases.
“The fact is a soldier was also killed. … If the soldiers are sincere in finding the answer they should cooperate instead of dragging their feet.”
In 2013, after ordering an investigation into the six deaths at Wat Pathum, a criminal court ruled five of the victims, including Kamolkate, were shot dead by the bullets coming from the 3rd Ranger Battalion of the Royal Thai Army on the Siam BTS station. The other one was killed by the bullets from the 2nd Infantry Battalion under the 31st Infantry Regiment King’s Guard.
No gunpowder residue was found on the hands of the victims and there was no evidence that “men in black” were present in the area at the time of death, the court said.