Witness to Thai army killings 'not seen since arrest'

Volunteer nurse who saw six shot in 2010 unrest not heard of since arrest last week

Witness to Thai army killings 'not seen since arrest'


A volunteer nurse who witnessed the killing of Thai demonstrators at a Buddhist temple in 2010 has not been seen since she was arrested last week, local media reported Monday.

Two men wearing military uniforms and three plainclothes officers visited the home of Nattathida Meewangpla in Samut Prakarn, east of Bangkok, before taking her away for "interrogation" Wednesday, the Khaosod news website said, citing a relative.

Meewangpla was a volunteer medic at Pathumwanaram temple, Bangkok, on May 19, 2010 when soldiers launched a crackdown on thousands of Red Shirt supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Six people were killed, including two other volunteer nurses and an Italian photographer.

Meewangpla’s cousin said Monday that the men who arrested her had "simply told her to bring some clothes. They didn’t say on what charges they arrested her."

He added: "They didn’t say where they were taking her and they wouldn’t let us photograph them. We have been too afraid to tell the police."

Military spokesperson Col. Winthai Suwaree has denied the army’s involvement in the disappearance, telling Khaosod that "individuals with ill intention" might have claimed to act in the junta’s name in order to "mislead society."

He added: "Please be confident that every action and mission of the security officers is in accordance with boundary of the laws."

In August 2013, a Bangkok court, to which Meewangpla gave key testimony, concluded that soldiers posted on elevated train tracks overlooking the temple had shot the six victims.

At the time, then army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha -- who became Thailand’s premier after a coup -- reacted to the inquest by saying it should not be seen as "the final verdict."

He said: "None of my subordinate officers ever admitted to shooting anyone dead."

Other inquests into the deaths also found the military responsible.

To date, military leaders have refused to accept responsibility for the violence during the 2010 political protests, which led to the deaths of more than 90 people -- mostly Red Shirt demonstrators.

Last August, a criminal court dismissed a case against Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister from 2008 to 2011, and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban in relation to the killings on a technicality. A new case against them, however, is being considered by the anti-corruption agency.

Since last May’s coup, the junta led by Chan-ocha has detained hundreds of political activists, journalists and academics with critical views at military camps -- usually for the maximum seven days allowed under martial law.

In one case, the junta detained Red Shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen for three weeks, initially denying having taken her into custody. She later claimed to have been tortured, allegations the military denied.

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