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21-05-12, 08:08 PM #1Paknam Web Online Staff
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Court begins Japanese cameraman inquest
Court begins Japanese cameraman inquest
Published: 21/05/2012 at 07:15 PMOnline news: Local News
Pic from "THE NATION"
An inquest into the death of a Japanese cameraman killed during the clash between the military and anti-government protesters on the night of April 10, 2010 began on Monday morning.
Yusuke Muramoto, 43, the only brother of Reuters' cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto, testified in the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court where the inquest into two other deaths from same incident also began.
The court was first advised that Mr Muramoto had a team of lawyers appointed to represent him.
Mr Muramoto, together with three members of the Japanese Embassy, then broke off for a private discussion outside the courtroom with the prosecutor and the defence lawyers and Wichit Suksriplang, a manager of the 111 Foundation.
The public prosecutor, acting as a petitioner for the inquest, told him they had no problem with the appointment of a team of lawyers to assist.
The four lawyers - Manit Jitjunglub, Jumroon Kaewjumnong, Peera Limjarean and Jessada Chundee - were already at the court for the relatives of the other two cases.
Mr Wichit explained to Mr Muramoto that the lawyers had volunteered to represent him in court so that he did not have to be present in the room all the time. Mr Wichit noted the inquest still could not bring the culprit to justice. Another step was needed, but this was a pre-requisite, he said to the Japanese delegation.
The public prosecutor returned to the court again and asked it to merge all of the files of the three deaths into one inquest. The two-member judging panel adjourned for half an hour before returning and denying the request on the grounds that the death of the foreign journalist should be treated separately.
The inquest into the death of Hiroyuki Muramoto, 44, began with his younger brother providing general information to the court.
He said he learned about his brother's death via the internet around midnight of April 11, 2010 while he was in Japan.
Right after hearing the news, Muramoto's parents and his widow flew to Bangkok to identify the corpse and bring the body back home for religious rites.
The public prosecutor asked why the younger Muramoto, not the parents or wife, had come to testify in the court. Mr Muramoto said his parents were old and his sister-in-law had to take care of two children.
"We would also like to know about the facts. What happened then, and who killed Hiro," Mr Muramoto told the court through a translator.
During his lawyers' cross-examination, Mr Muramoto said he learned his brother was killed during the clash, but a judge had recorded that the cameraman was killed during the government crackdown.
He said he did not what weapon killed his brother. He only knew that his brother was shot while carrying his camera and doing his job as a Reuters' cameraman.
He said his brother worked for Reuters for about 15 years and had covered many other assignments other than in Bangkok. He conceded that governments in many countries in general did not provide protection and care for the media.
The lawyers asked if he had tried to get information from Reuters about the incident. He said he did but Reuters told him they could not yet identify who killed his brother. He also sought information from other sources but no one so far has been able to clearly explain it.
Throughout their quest for details, the Muramoto family has been assisted by the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok, he told the court.
The court set the next hearings for July 2 with 56 other witnesses. Mr Muramoto is to fly back to Japan on Tuesday.
There was a lot of Japanese media present for the inquest, but none from Reuters. Tida Tavornseth, Dr Weng Tojirakarn and other red-shirt supporters were also present.
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