First hearing of inquest into Fabio’s death
On 23 July, the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court held the first hearing in the inquest into the death of the Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi who was killed during the government crackdown on red shirts in May 2010.
Pol Col Suebsak Phansura, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police 6 and the chief investigator in Fabio’s case, testified that Fabio’s death was likely to have been caused by the action of military troops, who fired high-velocity bullets on a horizontal trajectory at reporters and demonstrators on 19 May 2010.
He said that since late last year when the Department of Special Investigation included Fabio’s case among 16 cases of people who were believed to have been killed by military troops during the political unrest, he had been assigned to head a team to investigate the case, and had examined evidence provided by the DSI and Pathumwan Police Station.
He found that Fabio was killed during the day time on 19 May 2010 near Ratchadamri intersection when he was covering the event. At that time, military troops were heading toward the intersection and intermittently firing at the demonstrators, he said.
Asked by a judge whether the troops were firing into the air or horizontally, Pol Col Suebsak said, ‘horizontally.’
Fabio was killed while he was running to dodge bullets and taking photographs at the same time. Turning his back on the armed troops, he was hit in the back by a bullet which went through his left chest. He was taken by red shirts on a motorcycle to the Police Hospital, and subsequently died, he said.
According to the police officer, during the government crackdown under the command of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation, 300 troops from the 3rd Cavalry Battalion (Royal Guard) were deployed at Ratchaprasong and Ratchadamri areas.
He said that on that day the cavalry troops were taking control in the area, using armoured vehicles and equipped with HK33 rifles, shotguns and pistols with rubber, blank and live ammunition and hand-thrown tear gas grenades.
His assumption that Fabio was likely to have been killed by the troops has been derived from the interrogation of 47 witnesses, forensic evidence, photographs and video clips provided by foreign reporters.
He, however, could not identify the type of bullet which killed the journalist, as it passed through the body, but he believed that it was a high-velocity bullet, judging from ‘the fact that it pierced the body and the nature of the wound’.
Fabio’s younger sister Elisabetta, who also testified in court, told Prachatai that she had a little more hope after seeing the progress in the justice process.
She said that she did not wish to see the culprits sent to prison, but only wanted to know the truth.
She is visiting Thailand for the 6th time to follow the case of her brother’s death.