By Olan Lertrattanadamrongkul
Among the Army's weapons confiscated by red-shirt protesters in April 2010, only one M-16 rifle has been returned to the military, the rest are still missing, Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkam-nerd said in testimony yesterday.
The missing weapons included 25 Tavor rifles, four M-16 rifles and 39 shotguns, he said in testimony before the House of Representative’s sub-committee on political development and mass communication.
The weapons belonging to the Army were confiscated by red protesters during the bloody protest in April 2010. They were displayed on the red-shirts’ stage at Rajdamnern Avenue on the day, he said.
Deputy Transportation Minister Chatt Kuldiloke, who was at the protest, said he saw a number of war weapons seized by the protesters and shown on the stage, but all of the weapons had been returned to the police.
“I would have helped to find them,” he told the sub-committee chaired by the opposition Democrat’s MP Watchara Petthong. Chat said the authorities employed excessive force to handle the situation, using armoured vehicles and other heavy war equipment to crack down on the protesters.
In other countries, anti-riot police were seen to be enough to handle such a protest, he said.
Sansern argued the weapons and armoured vehicles were necessary for security officials to
protect themselves as the protesters were equipped with war weapons.
The military did not fire live bullets at the protesters but shot into the air to frighten them, he added.
It remained unclear whether the deaths, notably in Wat Prathumwanaram, were caused by the military, he said, and noted that the military had clear evidence that “men in black” were involved in the protest.
The evidence was absolutely different from the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI), released earlier, he said.
The protest leaders might not have known about the existence of any men in black, or might have known but turned a blind eye to them, he said.
The handling of the protest by authorities was a subject for debate in Thailand, with each faction blaming the other for the harsh treatment of protesters while being too lenient with supporters.
Senator Kamnoon Sitthisa-marn said yesterday in the Senate the Administration Court had ruled last week that the Somchai Wongsawat government’s handling of the protest on October 7, 2008, was too harsh and had caused the deaths of some protesters.
Police chief Adul Saengsingkaew said the police had decided to appeal the court’s verdict and would take the case as a lesson.
In a separate development, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday the Democrats would hold a major rally at Lumpini Park on Sunday.
The rally would be a special episode as he would reveal the truth about the men in black
during the political turmoil of 2010. There would be a presentation about the group, Abhisit said.
Abhisit also mentioned his book, “The Colourless Truth”, would be launched soon.