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Thai forces may have killed Hiro Muramoto - investigators

Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto may have been shot by Thai security forces when he was killed during a street protest, state investigators said on Tuesday. They called for a new probe into his death in Bangkok in April.

“Since there was possible involvement by government officers, we have to start from square one by letting police investigate further,” Tharit Pengdith, director general of the Department of Special Investigation, told a news conference.

Muramoto, 43, a Japanese journalist based in Tokyo, was killed by a high-velocity bullet that hit his chest while he was covering clashes between anti-government protesters and troops.

“I hope the investigation can be completed swiftly so that all who care deeply about Hiro Muramoto’s death can have clarity about what precisely happened, David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief, said in a statement. “His family and colleagues need to know who was involved and what the circumstances were that led to this tragedy.”

Twenty-five people, mostly protesters, were killed and hundreds wounded on 10 April. Television footage showed Thai troops opening fire on protesters, while soldiers came under attack from grenades and black-clad gunmen moved among the demonstrators.

The DSI said Muramoto was among six people whose deaths will be further investigated because it was unclear if he was shot by security forces, protesters or unidentified “armed militants”.

A senior police official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue told Reuters on Tuesday that Muramoto was likely caught in crossfire and there was a “high possibility” that he was shot by the security forces although the case remained inconclusive. “Given the line of fire and eyewitness accounts, there is a high possibility but this is in no way conclusive which is why we need further investigation,” the official said. ■