2010 Unrest: Japan Again Demands Answer Over Reporter's Death

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada visited the site where Muramoto was slain on 23 August 2010.

BANGKOK — The Embassy of Japan in Thailand is still seeking answers from Thai authorities over the killing of a Japanese reporter during the 2010 political unrest in Bangkok.

Hiroyuki Muramoto, a camera who was working for Reuters, was shot dead while he was filming the clashes between Redshirt demonstrators and soldiers near Democracy Monument on the night of 10 April 2010. 

Taishi Akimoto, first secretary of the Japanese embassy in Bangkok, met with Thai police yesterday and discussed the development of the inquiry into the reporter's death. The discussion took place at Crime Suppression Division HQ and lasted about 30 minutes. 

According to Pol.Col. Prasopchoke Prommool, deputy commander of CSD, the Japanese diplomat wanted to know whether the recent arrest of five suspected “Blackshirt” militants has yielded any helpful information about Muramoto's death. The so-called “Blackshirts” are a group of gunmen allied to the Redshirt movement who were seen exchanging gunfire with security forces during the 2010 unrest.

"I have told the First Secretary that based on the investigation into the Blackshirt suspects, there is no evidence that they are involved in Muramoto's death," Pol.Col. Prasopchoke said. 

The police officer also informed Akimoto that the CSD is only responsible for the criminal investigation into the alleged possession of military-grade weapons by the arrested Blackshirt suspects, while the Division of Special Investigation (DSI) is launching a separate inquiry into the death of the Japanese reporter and other casualties during the crackdown.

"Right now we don't know who is responsible for the death of Mr. Muramoto," Pol.Col. Prasopchoke said. "So even though the First Secretary is very keen to know about the development in the case, we have to find the culprit first. The legal procedure is ongoing."

In the past four years, Japanese officials have made several requests to the Thai authorities for information about Muramoto's death. The gestures included a visit by Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada to the site where Muramoto was slain in August 2010. 

More than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed during the Redshirt protests in Bangkok between April – May 2010, which ultimately ended in a military crackdown. A handful of soldiers were also reportedly killed by the Blackshirt militants.

Five suspected Blackshirt militants were arrested last month and are awaiting trials in prison. 

Muramoto is one of the two foreign journalists killed in the 2010 military crackdown. The other was Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi, who was shot dead while he was covering the final day of the protests on 19 May 2010. A court inquest ruled that the gunfire that killed Polenghi came from the direction of security forces.

 

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