Thailand To Probe Killing Of Reuters Journalist

Muramoto, a 43-year-old Japanese national, was killed by a high-velocity bullet wound to the chest while covering clashes between anti-government “red shirt” protesters and troops in Bangkok’s old quarter on April 10 last year.

Witness accounts in a preliminary state investigation said he was shot from the direction of troops, but authorities now say the type of bullet was inconsistent with those used by soldiers.

Thai investigators have concluded the fatal bullet was of 7.62 mm calibre and that soldiers were armed with M-16 rifles that fire 5.56 mm bullets, the Director General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) told a news conference.

“The bullet that shot Muramoto was 7.62 mm not M-16 that was used by the authorities,” Tharit said. “It could be an AK-47 or something similar … but exactly who shot him I can’t answer at this point. We need more investigation.”

Television footage showed troops opening fire in the direction of hundreds of protesters, while soldiers came under attack from grenades. Mysterious black-clad gunmen were filmed moving among the demonstrators.

“Of course, the bullet came from the direction of the troops, but we don’t know who fired it because the troops were also surrounded by red-shirt protesters,” said Tharit of the bullet that killed Muramoto.

A preliminary version of the DSI report seen by Reuters in December quoted a witness as saying he saw “a flash from a gun barrel of a soldier,” then watched Muramoto fall after he was shot in the chest while filming the troops. Reuters