Bangkok: A Thai agency on Saturday said troops
were "involved" in the deaths of a Japanese cameraman and 12
civilians during an army crackdown on rallies in Bangkok last
year and called for new inquiries.
In a significant change in stance since saying in
February that soldiers were not to blame for the death of
Hiroyuki Muramoto, of the Reuters news agency, the Department
of Special Investigation (DSI) said it had sent the case back
to police to probe.
"The DSI believes (the deaths) occurred during the
officials` operation, so we believe that they were involved
with those killed," agency chief Tarit Pengdith told agency,
insisting this had been the position all along.
More than 90 people -- mostly civilians -- died in the
unrest in April and May 2010 and both military and
anti-government "Red Shirt" protesters have accused each other
of using live ammunition.
This is the first DSI statement on the high profile
case since a new government allied to the Red Shirts came to
power last month.
Investigators initially concluded that Muramoto might
have been killed by the military during clashes between troops
and protesters, but early this year said police evidence
suggested the bullet was from an AK-47 assault rifle or
similar firearm, which are not used by the Thai military.
In February the Bangkok Post reported claims that the
DSI head had been visited by a senior army figure to complain
about the initial department finding that soldiers could be
behind the deaths.
But Tarit has denied that the army or government
interfered in the probe.