May 29 ruling in journalist's death

Jeff Jablonsky (in red) shot video of the May 19, 2010 events but was not asked to give testimony on Friday. In the foreground is Karom Pornpolklang, a lawyer in the case. (Photo by Achara Ashayagachat)

The court has set May 29 for a ruling in the inquest into the death of an Italian journalist during the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010. 

Three witnesses who were at the scene when Fabio Polenghi was shot on May 19, 2010 were supposed to testify on Friday, but the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court ruled that Michel Mass's account was already adequate. Mass, a Dutch journalist based in Jakarta, told the court that he saw on television that morning that the military was breaking down barriers at the Sala Daeng intersection, so he went there. "I saw the soldiers moving at about 10am some 500 metres from where I stood near the Four Seasons hotel side," he said. Mr Mass did not see the military again as some tents obscured his view, but perhaps the army were around there, he said. He heard people had been shot, so he was trying to see what happened but there were some barricades including a tank containing water, and firing was continuing so he had to keep running. Mr Mass himself was then shot and taken on motorcycle to Police Hospital before being transferred to Samitivej Hospital. He told the court that he gave information to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and at two police stations. Though he did not see who shot Polenghi, the direction was from the Sala Daeng-Lumpini side, the court was told. The judge said the evidence was already adequate and it had been shown that the M16 bullet explicitly belonged to the army. Elisabetta Polenghi said she was disappointed the court did not listen to two other witnesses to her brother's death. Saito Masayuki was taking still pictures and captured images of the Italian falling. Jeff Jablonsky, who took the video that was used in the case, was also unable to testify. "I had hoped that the judges would listen to more from the essential witnesses on the scene. But I respect the court decision and look forward to hearing the verdict. Fabio's mother will be here as well," said Ms Polenghi. Ms Polenghi said she had brought Mr Jablonsky to give his account to the DSI in preparation for proper protocol for a further investigation after the inquest's conclusion. "We don't want to lose another chance that this essential witness could not tell everyone what really happened," she said. Mr Jablonsky, 54, an American, said there could not be any doubt that the bullets were from the direction in which the military was advancing on to Ratchadamri Road. "The bullets were behind me so I know it was from the military side. Half a dozen press (with armbands) were running and hiding from the oncoming bullets onto the Ratchaprasong intersection," he said. A tearful Ms Polenghi also addressed reporters after the court hearing, saying: "I give my brother to you as if he is your brother. Thank you for all the help that has been given to me and in the inquest."