(13 June) The Australian
journalist who was taking shelter in Pathumwanararm Temple after the military forces dispersed the
main encampment of the Redshirts on 19 May 2010 testified to the court today that he had seen no
armed elements among the protesters.
Mr. Steve Tickner added that the temple, designated as
?Safe Zone? for the protesters by the authorities at the time, came under hails of gunfire for
Mr. Tickner was testifying as a witness to the Criminal Court in Bangkok, which is
attempting to establish who was responsible for 6 deaths in the temple, including some volunteer
Redshirts have accused the military as firing at the temple from overlooking BTS
track, citing video of the incident as evidence, but the army and members of the former government
under Mr. Abhisit Vejjajeeva have always denied the allegation.
The Australian reporter told
the court that he visited the Redshirts main camp at Central World shopping mall on 15-17 May,
wearing green armband to signify his press status. He said most of the protesters were farmers,
children, and ordinary people. He said he saw no armed group in the protest site.
Nonetheless, on 18 May he saw group of men equipped with homemade bombs standing around
Lumpini Park, but they were standing apart from the protesters, according to his
On 19 May – the
day of final assault by the military – Mr. Tickner said he returned to the shopping mall around
06.00-07.00, which was very difficult task because the military have besieged the area. He said he
saw soldiers armed with M-16 rifles, sniper rifles, and shotguns around the
He told the court that after the Redshirts leaders announced their
surrender at 13.00 some of the protesters took shelter in Pathumwanararm Temple (also known as Wat
Pathum). He said he was walking in front of the temple around 18.00 when he heard gunfire from
direction of Siam Paragon shopping mall, and saw around 20 people – unarmed – ran toward the
Mr. Tickner said he saw a man falling down, helped himself up, and slumped onto a BTS
pillar. When Mr. Tickner went to investigate, he said, the man was bleeding profusely from the
bullet wound in his chest, so he and a monk helped carry him to the temple. The man was later
identified as Mr. Atchai Chumchan.
Mr. Tickner told the court that he later met a British
journalist inside the temple called Andrew Buncombe. Mr. Buncombe reportedly told Mr. Tickner he saw
guns being fire from the BTS track, but Mr. Tickner said he did not see anything. Nonetheless, he
said the temple came under attack from gunfire unceasingly for hours, sending people inside the
temple scurry to shelters.
During the moment of sustained gunfire, he said, Mr. Buncombe was
shot in the hip but he did not see the actual moment when the Briton was hit.
He said he took
some photos of the shooting, which started again around 21.00-22.00. Mr. Tickner said he left the
temple around 08.00 on the next day.
A lawyer asked him whether he saw any weapons around the
Redshirts stage when he was observing the scene, and whether he saw any ?Blackshirt? militant on 19
May 2010. Mr. Tickner answered no to both questions.