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DSI: Thai state officials connected to 22 deaths in 2010 protest


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BANGKOK, May 18 – Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said on Friday it has concluded that 16 deaths during the 2010 political riots might have been caused by state officials, while 12 other deaths may be caused by red shirt protesters.

DSI Chief Tharit Pengdit said there is solid evidence proving state officials were involved with the deaths of 16 out of 89 persons during the April-May 2010 protest of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the red shirt movement.

The cases have been forwarded to the metropolitan police to conduct further investigation but police also asked more investigation files of six other deaths from the department, Mr Tharit said.

Altogether 22 deaths might have been due to state officials, the DSI chief said, adding several cases are already in court.

Mr Tharit however noted that among 89 deaths, 12 were believed to have been killed by the red shirts, while in another 55 cases the identity of the killers were not yet identified.

The DSI chief said that in the case of Col Romklao Thuwatham, Deputy Chief of Staff of the 2nd Infantry Division who died on April 10, 2010 during security operations at Khok Wua intersection, has been classified as the action of the red shirts.

Mr Tharit said the killer of Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol or Seh Daeng, a hardline red shirt leader who supervised the movement’s security operation and red shirt guards, is still unknown.

The investigation into the Seh Daeng killing will continue although the case happened two years ago and most evidence was destroyed during the chaos.

The DSI chief also reported that investigations of 174 cases out of 266 UDD-related cases have completed during the two-year inquiry. The cases include the terrorism, harm to public and state officials, threat to the government and weapons-related cases.

The red shirt demonstrations against the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration started in mid-March, 2010, but turned deadly with sporadic grenade, bomb and shooting incidents and the May 19 military operation forced them to end their protest. Riots in the protest areas were followed by arson which destroyed or damaged more than 30 buildings including high-end shopping mall CentralWorld.

The clashes left 89 people dead, with both sides, the protesters and the state officials accusing each other of instigating violence that led to heavy casualties. (MCOT online news)

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