Six unarmed people killed at a Buddhist temple during a military crackdown on anti-government protesters in Thailand’s capital three years ago were slain by bullets fired by Thai soldiers, an inquest found Tuesday. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/08/06/world/asia/ap-as-thailand-protest-deaths.html?ref=world
The inquest by the Bangkok South Criminal Court said that four men and one woman who took refuge in Pathum Wanaram temple near the protest site, were killed by high-velocity bullets fired by Thai soldiers who were on the city’s elevated train tracks, while another man was shot by soldiers from the ground.
The findings came at a time of renewed political tension, as protest groups gathered in Bangkok this week to oppose a bill that would grant amnesty to protesters who were involved in political demonstrations since the 2006 military coup.
About 90 people were killed over several weeks in 2010 when demonstrators occupied downtown Bangkok for nine weeks before they dispersed by the deadly army crackdown.
The inquest dismissed claims by a soldier that there was an unidentified armed group near the temple when the shootings happened, saying there was not enough evidence. It also said the six people were not using any weapons when they were killed.
Abhisit’s government approved the use of live ammunition under limited conditions and deployed sharpshooters and snipers during the demonstration.
“I’m so glad that I don’t know what to say. This just confirms our stance that no amnesty should be granted to state’s security officers who acted beyond what was necessary,” he said. “The soldiers must be held accountable.”
Thai authorities have a long history of shielding military personnel from prosecution in political bloodsheds in recent decades.
Tuesday findings were the latest in a series of inquests in the years ago. In previous cases, the court ruled that five people were killed by guns used by military personnel, and that another person — an Italian photographer — killed by bullets that was fired from the direction of security forces, while two inquests were inconclusive on who committed the killings.
A Reuters Japanese cameraman, Hiroyuki Muramoto, was shot dead on April 10, 2010, during the first round of a crackdown on protesters.