Fabio Polenghi

A disappointing inquest into Fabio Polenghi death

Fabio Polenghi was killed  on 19 May 2010, just before 11.00 am, as he and other journalists investigated shots fired at the Red Shirts during the evil Thai military crackdown ordered by the then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The inquest today at the Criminal Court into the killing of Italian journalist Fabio came to a controversial decision,  rejecting two out of the three main witnesses considered to be very important in establishing who actually shot Fabio.

One of the witnesses had taken video footage just few seconds before Fabio was shot.

The judges said “that their testimony was considered redundant to the trial”.

An earlier Bangkok Post report says that three other witnesses told the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court “they believed that Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi died from shots fired by the military”.
Despite claims by the then Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban that Fabio was killed by a grenade launched from what he called a terrorist position and that Fabio died side-by-side with a soldier, the inquest revealed that Fabio was in fact killed by a high-velocity bullet possibly from an M16 as used by the Thai army. Witnesses,  photographs and video evidence have all proved that Suthep Thaugsuban version of how Fabio died was just pure fabrication. Numerous reports, including one by the the CPJ all noted that Fabio was shot. The autopsy results showed that Fabio died from a high-velocity bullet that entered the heart, and caused damage to his lungs and liver. An important and valuable statement was made by the American freelance documentary film maker Bradley Cox, he told the court “that he did not see or hear any single gunshot from where the red shirt protesters were, but clearly heard shots from the Lumpini and Sala Daeng sides, where military were zeroing in.”

Bradly added, that earlier on the morning of May 19, troops fired sporadically from behind a barricade into areas 200 meters away that were controlled by red-shirted protesters for the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or UDD. Bradley, said both he and Fabio had taken footage of a protester shot in the leg around 10:45 a.m. About 15 minutes later, Bradley said, sensing a lull in the shooting, he moved away from a barricade controlled by the UDD and into a nearly empty road to investigate a commotion among protesters approximately 30 to 40 meters away. Bradley said Fabio followed a few steps behind. While they both ran down the road, Bradley said he felt a sudden, sharp pain in the side of his leg. It turned out that a bullet had grazed his knee, causing a minor injury. When he turned to look back in the direction of the troops, he saw Fabio sprawled on the ground about two or three meters behind him.

Fabio was wearing a blue helmet with the word “Press” written across the front and back, and a green armband indicating that he was a working journalist.

My feeling at the time was that we were shot at the exact same time, perhaps even with the same gun,” said Bradley, adding that he didn’t hear the gunshot or shots that hit him or Fabio. “I don’t know who shot me or Fabio, but if the military was trying to shoot red shirts, there was no one around us. … Soldiers were firing at anything or anybody.

A taxi motorcyclist by the name of Kwanchai Sowapas had also told the court “that it was army soldiers who shot Polenghi, because he saw them on that side, some 70 metres away from him and some 30 to 40 metres from the Italian photo-journalist.” The last witness German journalist Michel Maas who was also shot by the military told the Criminal Court judges today that the bullets all came from the direction of the military side. The Criminal Court will on May 29 make a ruling on Fabio’s death.

His younger sister, Elisabetta Polenghi, has campaigned relentlessly over the last three years for a fair and honest inquest to her brothers tragic and unnecessary death. I am sure Elisabetta was disappointed by the Thai legal system today and also having to wait until the end of May for the ruling.

Elisabetta has my sympathy.