Army says it didn't kill anyone at temple

Army says it didn't kill anyone at temple

The army yesterday insisted soldiers did not kill people at Wat Pathum Wanaram during the crackdown on red shirts on May 19, 2010 after police testifying in court had implicated the army.

Deputy army spokesman Winthai Suwari made the statement in defence of the army's security operations after the court heard testimony on Monday from witnesses and investigators probing the temple deaths.

During the hearing, police confirmed that five of the six people killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram during the crackdown were shot with bullets normally used by military forces.

Testifying before the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court, Pol Col Suebsak Phansura, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau's Division 6, said the bullets were .223 calibre, which are used with M16 and Tavor rifles, common in military use.

The victims were shot from an elevated position, he added. The six people killed that day were Suwan Sriraksa, 30, a farmer; Atthachai Chumchan, 28, a law school graduate; Mongkol Khemthong, 36, a rescue worker; Rop Suksathit, 66, a hired driver; Kamonkade Akkahad, 25, a volunteer nurse; and Akkharadej Khankaew, 22, a hired hand.

Pol Col Suebsak's team had interrogated soldiers based at the skytrain station who said men in black had fired at them from the ground up toward the skytrain track.

But ballistics tests showed no bullets had been fired from ground level at the victims in the temple, he said.

Col Winthai said yesterday the bullets and firearms used to kill the people in the temple had been stolen during the riots.

On April 10, 2010 12 Tavor rifles, 700 .223 calibre bullets, 35 shotguns and 1,152 rubber bullets were stolen from soldiers at Phra Pinklao Bridge.

Later that same day, 13 Tavor rifles were stolen from soldiers at Democracy Monument.

On April 15, 2010, two M16 rifles and 100 M16 bullets were stolen from soldiers at Sam Liam Din Daeng.

The army has filed complaints with police asking them to investigate the robberies, Col Winthai said.

He said the army had proof that the stolen firearms and bullets were used during the unrest.

He said soldiers could not move past Chaloem Phao junction because they had been held back by men in black firing at them. Security forces were not positioned along the entire length of the skytrain track because they were obstructed by men in black.

He insisted that soldiers were positioned only at the Siam BTS station and did not move any further towards the temple.

Col Winthai said the army did not want to sway the court's decision, but it expected all sides to stick to the evidence when drawing conclusions.

First Army chief Udomdej Seetabutr said yesterday he was not concerned about the testimony against the soldiers over the temple deaths.

He said he was confident soldiers had performed their duties carefully and correctly during the security operations.

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