Investigation into attack on reporters will be fair: Damrongsak
The National Police chief on Sunday promised a fair investigation into allegations of police officers injuring two reporters during a clash with protesters on Friday.
Pol General Damrongsak Kittiprapas said if any police officers were found to have committed wrongdoing that led to the two reporters getting injured, they would be punished accordingly.
Protesters had gathered a few hundred metres from the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, where the Apec Summit was being held and clashes soon broke out, with riot police shooting rubber bullets into the crowd.
Clips of a monk being pushed against a wall and a policeman reportedly attacking a reporter from the online news site, The Matter, went viral. The reporter was attacked even though he shouted out his credentials and showed his press armband.
A Reuters photographer also reportedly sustained minor injuries from hard objects being flung around.
Damrongsak said on Sunday that it would take investigators time to check photos posted on social media of riot police officers allegedly assaulting reporters.
He added that investigators will also check the photos and video clips recorded by police during the crackdown on protesters.
“I hereby affirm that the Royal Thai Police will be fair to all injured persons. If the probe concludes that police offers were excessively violent, they will be punished,” Damrongsak said.
He added that the injured reporters will also be compensated in line with regulations if investigators confirm they were injured by police officers.
The National Police chief added that it was difficult to protect media members during a crackdown because there were too many of them and they often get caught in the crossfire.
“But we will later set up a committee to review how reporters can work with police during such operations, so nobody gets injured,” Damrongsak said.
He added that a police officer will be assigned to coordinate with the media crew at all rally sites, but all reporters must clearly display their press badges.
The police chief also said that many so-called reporters were actually independent YouTubers or bloggers who had not registered with the police.
“We’ll raise this and other issues with the Thai Journalists Association later,” Damrongsak said, without elaborating when this discussion was to be held.