January 28, 2014 00:00 By Mongkhon Komprad, Patcha Suwa
A protester who survived Sunday's bloody incident in Bangkok's Bang Na district said he clearly saw the faces of his attackers.
“One of them had a gun,” Cheuy Klaengkratoke, 75, said.
Cheuy, who was helping close down an advance polling station not far from the Bang Na district office, was beaten by a group of men until he lost consciousness.
“The gunman was about to shoot me, but his friends stopped him probably because a woman was right next to me in the pickup. So, they pulled me out and beat me up instead,” he said.
Protest leader Suthin Taratin, who was in a vehicle nearby, was shot dead in the same incident. Nakhon Si Thammarat-native Wicharn Sukbangnop, 54, said he was with Suthin when someone began firing on the truck they were in.
“He [Suthin] was shot and I was shot too,” Wicharn said yesterday, adding that he kept calling on the police for help, but nobody stepped forward.
Meanwhile, Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, the Justice Ministry’s inspector-general and forensics expert, said yesterday that Suthin had been shot from two directions and the bullet that killed him had entered on the right side of his neck and exited through his left ear.
Suthin, whose bathing rites were held yesterday afternoon at Wat Somanas, was a leader of the People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime.
The incident has caused leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee to review security measures to ensure protesters’ safety, PDRC leader Issara Somchai said. He condemned the caretaker government for allowing casualties to happen and questioned why no arrests had been made yet.
Dr Niran Pitakwatchara, from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and Pornthip, who performed an autopsy on Suthin’s body upon his relatives’ request, said they could not yet determine the type of bullet or gun used because no bullet or shrapnel was found in his body.
Suthin’s body has four marks sustained from two gunshots – one that entered in the armpit and another that entered in the neck, Pornthip said. She added that they would need to look at reports on the examination of vehicles nearby and the wounds sustained by others for clarity.
The NHRC plans to discuss protecting people’s rights with officials from the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order tomorrow.
National Police chief Pol General Adul Saengsingkaew has called on investigators to speed up their probe into the melee near the Wat Sri-iam advance polling station in Bang Na, during which Suthin was shot on Sunday. He also asked the investigators to find out why, despite the presence of police checkpoints, weapons were brought into the area.
Aek said some 50 men from unidentified political groups travelling on motorcycles and other vehicles from Srinakarin Road had arrived at the scene, adding that no media footage or any other sources had managed to capture the gunman in the act, he added.
Deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree, meanwhile, quoted Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as expressing sorrow over Suthin’s death and saying he would ask the CMPO to tighten measures to ensure protesters’ safety.
Kanittha Duang-in, Suthin’s widow, said their 5-year-old daughter was too young to realise the loss, adding that her husband was the family mainstay. She would leave resolution of the murder up to the police.