Friday, July 8, 2011

New Thai PM urged to probe Italian's death

Thaksin Shinawatra

BANGKOK - THE sister of an Italian photographer killed in Thailand during a military crackdown on opposition protests last year has called on the new government to relaunch an investigation into his death.

Ms Elisabetta Polenghi's brother Fabio was shot and killed on May 19, the day when soldiers firing live ammunition stormed the anti-government 'Red Shirts' sprawling rally base in the centre of Bangkok.

In an open letter to premier-in-waiting Yingluck Shinawatra, whose party won a decisive victory in Sunday's general election with the support of the Red Shirt movement, Ms Polenghi called for 'a new era of justice and respect'.

'It is my heartfelt hope that the investigations of the 2010 deaths will be reopened and reviewed and that the sacrifice of many will not have been useless,' she added. Fabio Polenghi was killed while working as a freelance photographer covering the protests, in which thousands of Reds brought central Bangkok to a standstill for two months with demands for snap elections.

Street battles between soldiers with rifles and mostly unarmed protesters during the April and May unrest claimed more than 90 lives and left nearly 1,900 people injured, mainly civilians. Families of the victims are still waiting for information from the authorities about the circumstances of the deaths. Hiro Muramoto, a Japanese cameraman working for Reuters news agency, was also among those killed.

The Red Shirts are broadly loyal to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra whose sister Yingluck is set to become Thailand's first female premier. Thaksin has vowed not to 'seek revenge' over last year's clashes in an attempt to avoid alienating key players, such as the military. -- AFP
Thaksin Shinawatra

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