In Memory of Hiro Muramoto
In December, the DSI investigation report on Hiro and another report on the killing of six civilians in the Wat Pathum Wanaram temple on May 19, 2010, were leaked to Reuters. The leaked document on Hiro confirmed the DSI’s conclusion that the Thai military was probably responsible for his death, and that the case had been handed to police for further investigation. DSI chief Tharit denied to the Thai media that the documents were genuine, but in conversations with Reuters he conceded they were genuine but preliminary.
Since there was possible involvement by government officers, we have to start from square one by letting police investigate further.
From the beginning, the evidence on Hiro’s death suggested he was killed by a bullet fired by a Thai soldier. It seems unlikely he was deliberately targeted because he was a journalist; instead, he was killed when soldiers fired live ammunition randomly at protesters. This was the conclusion reached by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI), an agency roughly equivalent to the U.S. FBI. Despite being an overtly politicized institution, the DSI still has many honest investigators who make a genuine effort to do their job. The investigators on Hiro’s case concluded that he was most likely shot dead by a soldier in the Royal Thai Army. DSI director general Tharit Pengdith conceded this point in a news conference on November 16, 2010:
On April 10, 2010, Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto was shot dead while filming clashes between Thai soldiers, Red Shirt protesters and unknown gunmen in the Rachadamnoen area of Bangkok. He was 43 years old and is survived by his wife, Emiko, and two children. Hiro joined Reuters as a freelance cameraman in 1992 and became full-time in 1995. The final footage he filmed before his death showed him in the thick of the fighting on April 10 – a day in which five soldiers and 20 other civilians were also killed. Among the incidents he filmed was a still unexplained grenade attack that killed Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, a rising military star and deputy chief of staff of the Queen’s Guard.