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Court Rules, 6 Wat Prathum Victims Succumbed to Soldier’s Bullets

Today, August 8th 2013, The Southern Criminal Court of Bangkok ruled that six people who were killed in Wat Pathum Wanaram on the last day of 2010 Red Shirts protests, died from bullets fired by soldiers stationed on the BTS (Bangkok mass Transit System) sky train tracks during the Army operation to crackdown on protestors.

The soldiers responsible for the shooting were unidentifiable and according to the court, there were also no presence of “Men in Black Shirts” (MBS) at the crime scenes.

More than 90 civilians were killed in the 2010 military operation on unarmed or lightly equipped (mostly with sling shots and fireworks) Red Shirts protestors; one of the most violent of its kind in the country’s history.

Back in May 19th 2010, as the military moved into the final stage of the “Area Reclaim Operation” to crush the months-long protest in Bangkok central business districts; hundreds of protesters fled into Wat Prathum Wanaram which was designated as “safe zone” by the authorities but gunfire still erupted near the temple in the evening and long into the night. As the result, 6 people were discovered dead, killed by gunshot wounds inside the so-called “safe zone”.

Numerous witnesses said they had seen soldiers firing at the temple from the overlooking the BTS tracks and video footage showed the same evidence. However, the military had always denied any involvement. They insisted that the reason they had had to use live ammunition on protestors was because there were armed militant units inside the Red Shirts rally sites. They called them “Men in Black Shirts”. The Army also blamed the Wat Prathum tragedy on this shadowy and imaginary unit.

Since the inquests began on the killing of the protestors in 2010, there has been no evidence whatsoever that linked these “MBS” to the deaths of victims. Most, if not all, of them, had died because of military-issued ammunition fired from the direction of the military positions. The case in point was that of Fabio Polenghi, Italian photojournalist who was shot in the back while running away from advancing soldiers on Rachaprasong Road, just hours before the tragedy at Wat Pathum.

Kamolkade Akkahad, a volunteer nurse, was among the victims that were killed in Wat Prathum Wanaram. Her brother, Nattapat Akkahad, said he was happy about the ruling and called for the prosecution of army personnel who were responsible for these deaths. Payoa Akkahad, Kamolkade’s mother, was also pleased with the verdict but added that this is why the Amnesty Bill should exclude state authorities who have committed these unlawful acts.

The names of the victims are listed here:

1. Mr. Suwan Sriraksa, 31 year old, self-employed
2. Mr. Atthachai Choomjun, 28 year old university Ramkhamhang University student
3. Mr. Mongkol Khemthong, 36 year old emergency unit officer (Por-Tek-Tung)
4. Mr. Rop Suksathit, 66 year old taxi driver in Suwannabhumi airport
5. Ms. Kamolkade Akkahad, 25 year old volunteer nurse
6. Mr. Akkadeth Khunkeaw, 23 year old, self-employed

Photo by : Pantip.com

Other details of the case:

• According to the court, victims number 1, 3-6 were killed by a high powered bullet (.223 and/or 5.56 caliber) fired from soldiers (Special Forces Unit 3 from Arawan Military Camp in Lopburi province) stationed on BTS track in front of Wat Phrathum Wanaram.

• Victim number 2 were killed by .223 and/or 5.56 caliber bullet that was fired from soldiers (Army Unit 2 from Military Camp 31 in Bangkok) stationed on Rama 1 road.

• Most of the victim were shot in the chest area next to their hearts and lungs. This is an indication of a highly trained gunman. Victims’ number 5 and 6 were shot in the head and in the mouth respectively.

• According to forensic evidence, there is no gunpowder on any of the victims’ bodies to indicate that they had fired a weapon prior to their death. The temple area was also highly secured by the soldiers since 13th May 2010, which makes it even harder for anyone to sneak in a firearm inside Wat Phrathum complex.

• There is no evidence which indicate the presence of Men in Black Shirts within the temple ground.

Unofficial translation of the Criminal Court’s order by Prachatai’s Pipob Udomittipong can be found here (source : prachatai.com)

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  1. Pingback: Uniting for the Future: Learning from Each Other’s Experiences (PART III) & Dr. Weng’s Comments on Ms. Hayner » Red Shirts

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