(20 September) The
soldier who had been captured on video
instructing his fellow soldier to shoot at a Molotov-throwing Redshirts protester on 15 May 2010
told the court his team was merely firing blank rounds.
MSG Kacharat Niamrord was testifying
to the court as a witness in the inquests of Mr. Mana Saenpreasertsri and Mr. Ponsawan Nakachai, who
were shot dead during the clashes between the soldiers and the Redshirts on Rama IV Road.
The court is trying to establish whether the 2 individuals were shot dead by the military as
the Redshirts have claimed. The military has repeatedly denied any responsibility in the deaths of
more than 90 people killed throughout the political violence of April-May 2010.
said he was a tank driver assigned to the 5th Cavalry Battalion in Lopburi Province. He said his
unit was stationed near Lumpini Park on 15 May 2010 to join the military operation against the
According to the witness, the situation grew tense in the afternoon as 3-4 M79
grenade attacks landed near his unit′s position, while a number of buildings, vehicles, and rubber
tires were burned by the protesters. Sounds of gunshots and explosion were echoing in the area, MSG
Around 15.00, the soldier said, he switched from a shotgun to an M-16 rifle
armed with sniper scope and blank rounds. He and SGT Sarinkarn Taweecheep then took position on the
second floor of a building opposite Lumpini Boxing Stadium o observe the situation and alert other
units of potential dangers.
It was at this position that the pair was captured on a now
notorious video, which showed SGT Sarinkarn
aiming his sniper rifle, firing his weapon as MSG Kacharat gave instructions.
In the video,
the Master Sergeant could be heard instructing SGT Sarinkarn to shoot at a protester who had been
throwing Molotov cocktails for many times. The Sergeant fired the rifle. MSG Kacharat suddenly stood
up, his hand stretched out, shouting He′s down! He′s down! Don?t repeat [the shot]!.
Sarinkarn disobeyed him nonetheless, firing his weapon one more time, before MSG Kacharat pushed him
However, MSG Kacharat insisted to the judges yesterday that SGT Sarinkarn was firing
blank rounds, and that he was in fact saying Ceasefire! Enough! because he exercise rounds were
limited. We were not supposed to waste them.
The witness said he had no idea at which
direction the Sergeant was aiming. He also claimed he saw no one shot throughout the firing.
Asked by the lawyer representing the families of the deceased which direction the witness
and SGT Sarinkarn were facing, MSG Kacharat replied they were facing toward a burning garbage truck,
and not the protesters.
Mr. Sukit Tasanasunthornsawong, a doctor at Lertsin Hospital, later
testified that he received the body of Mr. Ponsawan around 16.45 on 15 May 2010. Mr. Sukit said he
found gunshot wounds on the right ribcage, the bullet penetrating the victim′s lung and liver.
He told the court he tried operating Mr. Ponsawan, but the victim was bleeding too
profusely. The victim reportedly died after the operation.