The Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) revealed the progress of its investigations yesterday into two killings - the fatal shootings of a police officer and a protester - during clashes on December 26 between anti-government protesters and the police, at the Bangkok Youth Centre, also known as the Thai-Japanese Stadium.
CAPO said in the case of Pol Sen Sgt Major Narong Pitisit, police had found the shell of a 32-calibre bullet at Gate 3 of the stadium where the registration of electoral candidates took place last week.
The angle of the bullet as it entered Narong's chest confirmed that the shot was fired from the direction of the gate. The bullet had entered the right side of Narong's chest as he squatted behind a tree, according to a police witness.
Investigations into the shooting of protester Wasu Suchantabut also uncovered a shell, but the centre was unable to confirm it was from the bullet that killed him, as Wasu's body was not sent to the Police Hospital for an autopsy. Police are working closely with relatives of Wasu to solve the case.
Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew defended the actions of police on the the day, while also acknowledging that plainclothes police were ordered up to the roof of a three-floor Labour Ministry building near the stadium.
Adul said officers were positioned there to throw and fire different types of tear gas at protesters, in order to prevent them from obstructing candidates who wanted to register for the election.
The measures were necessary, he said, adding that police did not use excessive force. He claimed the sound of shots reported by witnesses was actually the sound of firecrackers being set off by protesters. A 15-year-old minor was also arrested by the police and confessed to being hired for Bt500 to set off firecrackers, he said.
Adul also acknowledged that officers had vandalised a protester's vehicle during the protests, but insisted that police were only armed with batons, shields, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Deputy national police Commissioner Pol Gen Worapong Chewprecha was asked why police did not withdraw in the afternoon. He responded by saying that police had a duty to protect the stadium premises until 4.30pm, when Election Commission staff and other officials planned to leave.
As a result of the police action, eight more parties were able to register as candidates in the afternoon, bringing the total of party-list registration to 30 candidates, he said.
He also defended officers who used rubber bullets, saying they were well trained. He said it was clear on the day that protesters were intent on obstructing the electoral process.