Only rubber bullets used on fatal day: Army marksmen
During almost seven hours of questioning yesterday, two Army marksmen dispatched during the political unrest of 2010 insisted they had used only rubber bullets when firing at approaching militant protesters, the chief investigator reported.Sergeants Saringkan Thaweecheep and Kacharat Niamrod, Army marksmen from the Fifth Cavalry Battalion, appeared at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) late yesterday morning for questioning on their role during the political unrest of 2010.
They were stationed on a building in Soi Ngam Dupli, near Bangkok's Bon Kai community, on May 15, 2010. The location is close to Lumpini Boxing Stadium and not far from the red-shirt barricades around Lumpini Park where protesters camped out for several weeks surrounded by fortifications constructed of tyres, sharpened bamboo poles and gas cylinders.
Saringkan and Kacharat told the investigators yesterday that they had used M-16 assault rifles and rubber bullets against militant red shirts who were trying to attack the security forces. They said the scope in a photo taken during their operation belonged to a BB gun, and not an assault rifle.
They said during yesterday's questioning that they fired only a small number of shots while stationed at the location between 3pm and 6pm on that day, according to Police Colonel Prawet Moonpramuk, the DSI's deputy director-general and head of the investigation team.
They were instructed by their supervisors to provide protection for the security forces stationed earlier in the area. They were ordered only to fire warning shots, and for self-defence only.
The two sergeants said they were unaware at the time that a number of people had been killed and injured during the unrest on that day, the chief investigator reported.
Prawet said yesterday that the DSI would request that the Army submit the guns used by the two sergeants for DIS examination. He said the DSI would expedite its investigation into the case and then submit its findings to the Metropolitan Police for further action.
Saringkan told reporters yesterday that the questioning was "a bit stressful" and that he testified "in accordance with the truth".
He said that after the 2010 political unrest, he resigned from the Army because he had to take care of his father, who was diagnosed with a cancer.
During the questioning from 10.30am to 5pm, the two men took several breaks to visit the toilet and to smoke.
Prawet said yesterday that more witnesses would be summoned for questioning as part of the DSI investigation. These would include Thawil Pliensri, former secretary-general of the National Security Council, and General Anupong Paochinda, former Army commander-in-chief. Thawil and Anupong were part of the Council for Resolution of the Emergency Situation, which was set up by the government at the time to deal with the political unrest.