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Army did not kill cameraman: Thai probe

world Updated: Feb 27, 2011 18:55 IST

AFP
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Thailand's Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has concluded the army did not kill a Japanese cameraman shot last year during clashes between troops and protesters, the agency chief said on Sunday.

Hiroyuki Muramoto, who worked for Reuters news agency, was shot in the chest by an unknown gunman while covering the political unrest involving soldiers and anti government "Red Shirt" demonstrators in April.

The DSI initially suggested that security forces may have been involved in his death, but further investigation has contradicted this, DSI head Tharit Pengdit said. "The forensic reports from a respected doctor found that an AK-47 caused the death of the Japanese cameraman," Tharit told AFP. "The Thai army does not use this kind of weapon."

He added that the earlier findings "were based on witnesses who said the shooting was likely to have come from the military line".

The Bangkok Post newspaper said on Sunday said the DSI was "likely to face questions about why it changed its stance". It also reported "claims that the army chief of staff paid the DSI head a visit to complain about an initial department finding" that said soldiers should be blamed for the death.

Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd denied such a visit took place when contacted by AFP. He also told the Post that the soldiers "did not use AK-47 rifles that day".

The DSI is holding a press conference on Monday morning in relation to the findings, and Tharit said the agency would submit the new evidence to the police, who are making further investigations.

Muramoto, 43, was one of two foreign cameramen killed during the unrest in April and May, among more than 90 people -- mostly civilians -- who died in the clashes. Both sides accused each other of using live ammunition.