Police are trying to locate people who shot videos and took pictures, widely distributed online, of a violent incident last Sunday near Wat Sri-iam in which anti-government protest leader Suthin Taratin was shot and killed.
They hope to obtain files that would yield much clearer images for police investigators, while the picture-takers will be regarded as eyewitnesses, Bang Na police said yesterday.
Relying on direct eyewitness accounts may result in better identification of the attackers, said Bang Na police. The officers singled out a man in military camouflage dress who was seen pointing an object in his right hand at a truck in which Suthin was riding. An initial autopsy result showed that Suthin was hit by bullets fired from different directions.
A source with the Metropolitan Police Bureau speculated on whether Suthin was killed by stray bullets or shot to death deliberately. “The latter is more likely as he, a core leader of the People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime, took a headshot. He was seen in media footage checking on a number of people at a polling station in Bueng Kum district,” he said.
Meanwhile, deputy Democrat Party spokesperson Mallika Boonmeetrakool made public a compilation of photos and video clips of the incident posted online and in social media. She called on the police and the government’s Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) to use her compilation, or to rely on online materials, in their investigation into the incident.
A Nation News Agency reporter recounted the incident, saying a group of men “with a pro-election attitude” were present in the Bang Na area last Sunday. It said they allegedly intimidated a photographer by telling him not to cover the incident.
The unnamed photographer said the men were part of a group of 50 who openly showed support for the voting and were armed with batons and steel rods. Arriving in front of Wat Sri-iam, they told him, “Go away. Don’t take pictures… Do your job elsewhere.”
The photographer said he signalled that he was quitting taking pictures and relocated with an NMG news crew to the nearby Novotel Hotel.
This occurred at around 1.45pm, after several gunshots were heard. It turned out later that protest leader Suthin had been shot and eight supporters were assaulted.
The pro-election group of men armed with rocks and wooden sticks later attacked vehicles belonging to the protesters, as widely seen in online images and video clips.
At 1.55pm, 30 policemen on motorcycles and on foot arrived at the scene. Ambulances and rescue vehicles later took victims of the assaults to hospital.
The chronicle of events began at around 11.30am when NMG reporters spotted Suthin and other leaders heading to a polling station in the temple.
At around 12.30pm, around 100 protesters arrived and asked the station director to stop the election process and close down the station, where around 20 policemen in uniform and plainclothes were stationed.
At 1pm, the core leaders on a truck installed with loudspeakers announced that all polling stations in Bang Na district had closed and began to move off in a motorcade along Srinakharin Road.