On May 29th 2013, the South Criminal Court of Bangkok found that an Italian journalist and freelance photographer, Fabio Polenghi, age 48, was killed by a bullet that was fired from the direction of the security forces in the morning of May 19 2010 between 10:00-13:00 when troops began the “Area Reclaim” operation at Saladaeng leading up to Rachaprasong road. He was shot while he was running away from the troops as he took photos of the military operation against Red-Shirts supporters. His camera was also stolen right after he was shot.
The court ruled from the ballistic and autopsy evidences that the bullet that was found inside Fabio’s body were used by the military but the identity of the shooter is still obscure. “During the inquest, experts testified that the victim died of a wound from a high velocity bullet like those used by security forces and there was no evidence of any other group in the area,” a criminal court judge said. The cartridge that was found is that of a high velocity bullet of .223 calibers that was fired from a M16 rifle type 11 HK 33, a weapon commonly used by the military. The judge added that the shot which killed Mr. Polenghi “came from the direction where security forces were working to regain control of the area”. Mr. Bradly Cox gave a testimony supporting this claim as he was one of the witnesses on the scene when Fabio was shot. He himself was also shot in his right leg while he was running away in the same direction as Mr. Polenghi.
Mr. Polenghi’s sister, Elisabetta, told reporters at the Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT) yesterday that the ruling was “positive” and she was satisfied “but it is not the solution” because she expected “those responsible to be punished”. She stressed that “I don’t want anybody else to die, punished in this place does not mean death” but those ultimately found responsible should be “at least the person leading the operation on the ground”.
“The court ruled that orders given by Prime Minister Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep that day led to Fabio’s death,” Mr. Karom Ponthaklang, a lawyer for Fabio’s family, told reporters.”It is clear from the evidence that the bullet used was the kind used by Thai troops. We are satisfied with the verdict.” He added that he would ask the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) to press charges against Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban. The ruling could spell further trouble for Abhisit and Suthep because they were charged last year with giving orders to use live ammunition that led to civilian deaths.
Fabio Polenghi’s case is the 7th of its kind where earlier the Federal Criminal Court and the Criminal Court of Bangkok have already ruled that 4 other persons (Mr. Phan Kumgong, Mr. Charnnarong Pornsila, Mr. Chartchai Chaloa and a 14-years old boy named Kunagorn Srisuwan) were also killed by the .223 high velocity bullets that were fired from the security forces’ direction.