The government has promised a transparent investigation into the fatal shooting of Canadian Leo del Pinto after a probe by the National Human Rights Commission revealed key differences from the police investigation.
The NHRC publish a report at the weekend on its inquiry into the shooting of del Pinto and Carly Reisig in Pai last month. It contradicted the police investigation on several major points, notably that three shots were fired and not one as police have claimed.
The Thai government gave assurances to Canadian authorities via its embassy in Bangkok.
Human Rights Commis-sioner Surasee Kosolnavin said: ‘We understand the Thai government has given assurances now to the Canadian government that an investigation will be conducted with the utmost transparency.
‘The families of the victims can be assured we will represent the human rights issue in court as joint prosecutors.’
While the NHRC’s call for an independent probe was predicted, what has not been revealed so far is the police claim that ‘one bullet entered both Carly Reisig and the deceased’.
A commission panel discovered that three bullets were fired, each hitting vital targets – something which pathologists knew from an early stage. But this was not mentioned when police gunman Sergeant Uthai Dechawiwat was released without bail.
Reisig, 24, from Chilliwack in British Columbia, was shot first below her left breast. Del Pinto, also 24, from Calgary in Alberta, was then shot in the abdomen and head. The final bullet entered his check and lodged under his armpit, according to forensic evidence and witnesses interviewed by the NHRC.
Top pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunan, who gave evidence to the NHRC panel, has already publicly stated that the fatal bullet which killed del Pinto was fired into his skull in a downwards direction. This was backed by witness testimony.
The commission’s report stated: ‘When Dr Pornthip consulted with doctors who conducted the post-mortem on Leo del Pinto at Chiang Mai University, she gave the opinion that the characteristics of the shooting should not make it a case of the gun going off accidentally.’
Picture above right: Anonymous witnesses testify to NHRC and DSI in Bangkok
Lt-Colonel Sombat Panya, in charge of the police investigation in Pai, claimed Uthai fired accidentally as Leo towered over him.
Annapong Sutsukhon, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission, called for the investigation to be handed to the Department of Special Investigation, Thailand’s FBI.
He said: ‘It is thus credible that there has been violation of human rights by state officers in the justice system, a matter in which the Canadian Embassy and the media has a special interest.’
Del Pinto and Reisig were gunned down on January 6 outside a restaurant in Pai in the far North. It was the first of a series of shootings in which Canadians were involved in Thailand.
Special to The Nation
Thai Police Under Fire – Calgary Herald with copy supplied by Andrew Drummond through Splash Agency LA