DSI clears soldiers in 2010 clashes

DSI clears soldiers in 2010 clashes

The chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said on Wednesday that military officers ordered to crack down on red shirt protesters in 2010 could not be held responsible for the deaths of civilians killed as a result.

Armoured personnel carrier smashes through defence lines built by red-shirt protesters during their takeover of central Bangkok in 2010. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Tarit Pengdith announced the decision after a meeting with DSI officials in charge of investigating the 91 deaths during the red shirt street protests in April and May of 2010.

He said the meeting concluded the soldiers at that time were just doing their duty as assigned by their superiors. As a result, they will not be held accountable and will be protected by Section 70 of the Criminal Code, which states that those acting on orders by their commanders are immune from prosecution.

On May 14, the DSI will summon former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy prime minister at the time, Suthep Thaugsuban, to acknowledge additional lawsuits against them. 

The new charges came after the Criminal Court ruled in two cases, calling the death of 14-year-old Kunakorn "Nong Isa" Srisuwan premeditated murder, and the wounding of  Samon Maithong a case of attempted murder. 

“The death of Kunakorn Srisuwan was in the same incident that killed (taxi driver) Phan Kamkong and seriously injured Samon Maithong, the van driver. All of them were affected by the same military operation, (and) as a result the three cases are merged into one case," Mr Tarit said.

“So we need to summon Mr Abhisit and Mr Suhtep to hear the additional charges so that the accused can understand charges and facts" of the cases, he said.

The Criminal Court ruled last December that Kunakorn was killed by a military gunshot on Mor Leng Road in front of the OA cinema, about 20 metres off Ratchaprarop Road, on May 15, 2010.

The court said Mr Samorn was seriously wounded by military fire as he was driving a van into the army's restricted zone near a military checkpoint at Ratchaprarop Airport Rail Link station.

The court ruled last September that taxi driver Phan Kamkong had been shot and killed by troops near the Airport Rail Link as well.

The DSI chief also said his agency is preparing to arrest three suspects believed responsible for killing Gen Romklao Thuwatham during unrest near the Democracy Monument in 2010.

Investigators would soon present evidence to the public prosecutor to ask the court for arrest warrants for three unidentified men whose images were in photographs of the crime scene. 

Gen Romklao, then a colonel, was killed in a grenade attack on April 10, 2010, while he and troops were trying to reclaim an area occupied by red shirts near the Democracy Monument.

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