Press group asks Thai government to urgently probe reporters’ deaths

A press freedom organization called on Thailand’s government Tuesday to form an independent commission to investigate the deaths of two foreign journalists during violence connected to recent political protests. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, in a statement received in Bangkok, condemned the violence in the capital that caused the shooting deaths of Japanese Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto and Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi, and injuries to at least seven other foreign and local reporters. In an open letter, the committee’s director, Joel Simon, accused the Thai government of obstructing an investigation into Muramoto’s death by preventing journalists from interviewing soldiers who were near him when he was shot and by failing to release surveillance camera footage of the area. The 43-year-old Japanese cameraman was shot while covering street clashes on April 10. Simon also claimed that the 45-year-old Polenghi may have been “deliberately targeted” by government forces on May 19 because “he was killed while visibly carrying a camera in an open area with few protesters.” There have been no official findings about either death. Almost 90 people died and more than 1,800 were hurt during protests that began in March to demand early elections. The demonstrations were crushed by the army on May 19.


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