Freitag, 31. Mai 2013

Press conference on Fabio Polenghi's murder case at the FCCT

Sorry, diesmal gibt es, um die Authentizität der Statements zu wahren, keine deutsche Übersetzung.

Press Conference after the Court conclusion on the death of Italian Photo-Journalist Fabio Polenghi
Starting Friday, May 29th, 7 PM at the FCCT
Speaker: Elisabetta Polenghi, Sister of Fabio Polenghi
Guest Speaker: Shawn Crispin, Senior Southeast Asia Representative of the “Committee to Protect Journalists” (CPJ)

Pipob Udomittipong (translation), Elisabetta Polenghi and Shawn Crispin

Three years ago, on May 19th, Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi was shot and killed while covering the 2010 government crackdown on anti-government street protestors. Since then his sister, Elisabetta Polenghi,has persistently fought: against all odds to clarify the circumstances and to identify those responsible.
Since June 2012, many hearings have been held at the Bangkok South Criminal Court, where dozens of witnesses have been questioned by the judges. Foreign and International journalists, police and military officials, as well as: civil eye witnesses have given their testimony.
On May 29th, 9:30 a.m. the Bangkok South Criminal Court will announce what could be a landmark verdict for the victims of the 2010 violence. The verdict will conclude a long wait for the family of Fabio.
At an evening press conference, Elisabetta Polenghi will give her reaction to the court's decision and will be available for press questions and interviews. She will be accompanied by her sister and her mother.
Following her presentation, Shawn W. Crispin, Senior Southeast Asia Representative with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, will speak on the implications of the verdict and the wider problem of impunity in journalist killings in the region.
On this occasion, the official book of Fabio's work, entitled "Bangkok's Last Pictures", will be presented and available for purchase. Fabio's photography is currently on display at the FCCT.
(Invitation and summary from the email sent and written by Elisabetta Polenghi)

Fabio Polenghi - BANGKOK LAST PICTURES 2010
© Elisabetta Polenghi 
1rst Edition in "Reporter For Passion" May 2013
Printed by Fong Tong Enterprise - Bangkok
ISBN 978-61-63-35151-7

The  book is available in English and Thai!

There was also a photo exhibition at the Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand of Fabio's last photos taken during the Red Shirt protest. All 33 pictures were for sale. In commemoration of Fabio Polenghi the whole money will be used for a foundation that supports schoolarships for children of poor families.

Bangkok Post:
Blog by gjjbkk:
Statement Shawn Crispin as representative of the CPJ:

Shawn Crispin, Committee to Protect  Journalists (CPJ)

... Her (Elisabetta Polenghi) strength and dedication for a fair and honest inquest into Fabio's death, quite frankly has been inspirational for people like myself fighting for justice for slain journalists across the region. In a meeting before today’s trial she basically laid out that she has given up the past three years of her life to plan testimony, to gather evidence and to locate and conjure witnesses to fight her fight for justice.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

It was nearly three years ago today and two months after the military crackdown on the 2010 protest that Isa (Elisabetta) and I shared the same stage to call for truth and justice in Fabio's death. At that time my organisation released a research report that investigated the attacks begets journalists covering the April/May 2010 unrest including the killings of Fabio and Reuters camera man Hiro Muramoto. We also at that time spotlighted that several other journalists who were covering the unrest suffered significant injuries during the crackdown. Three years later – today – nobody has yet received justice.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

Interviews we conducted in the wake of the crackdown with journalists, private investigators and some embassy officials found that in several instances troops fired in a random manner into the crowds of apparently unarmed demonstrators. Often times in area's where reporters were present. Our interviews also found and highlighted the presence of heavily armed black clad protesters who fired gun shots and in instances launched grenades at troops deployed in areas where journalists were positioned.

The verdict in today's inquest established that the shot that killed Fabio Polenghi came from the direction were troops were positioned at the time. While the verdict did not ... directly to any particular soldier or politician or not even the military specifically CPJ views the verdict as a hopeful first step in the direction of breaking the cycle of impunity in media murders in Thailand.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

What we regret is that it took three long years to establish what was very clear from the start to journalists and eye-witnesses who were near Fabio at street level when was fatally shot. We believe that next stage criminal proceedings should proceed swiftly and hold accountable those who had command authority over the troop unit that shot and killed Fabio Polenghi.

It should also determine whether former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy for security Suthep Taughsuban gave the orders to shoot that fateful day. Regrettably neither of their roles were considered in the inquest proceedings.

The former Prime Minister declined an invitation to sit on tonight’s panel and present his perspective on who should be hold accountable for Fabio's murder.

At the same time we would like to take the opportunity to commend those journalists who bravely stepped forward and gave testimony in Fabio's inquest. In particular we (tip our cap???) to documentary film-maker Bradley Cox who provided important eyewitness testimony in the inquest which was recognised by the judge today as being crucial he gave me one of the earliest interviews that contributed to our earlier research, so I have tip to Brad. The same goes for Michel Maas who like Bradley suffered injuries that day and also gave crucial eyewitness testimony.

In journalist murder cases the CPJ tracks across the region, notably in the Philippines often times eyewitnesses remain silent and do not step forward and provide testimony due to fears of possible reprisals for giving incriminating testimony. And so again – the bravery and forthrightness of the journalists who stepped forward in this inquest is to be commended.

That said as an organisation we remain concerned about the pressure police authorities continue to apply on certain foreign journalist to make witness statements or turnover the full footage of the 2010 crackdown as they prepare their cases.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

This pressure applied by certain government authorities on journalists to hand over their footage of the 2010 crisis, some news organisations have refused these requests and refused them out of hand. Others have opted to cooperate but we feel that journalists should be allowed to refuse these requests and not have to fear threat or consequences in doing so. We found that freelancers are particular vulnerable to this without large news organisations to provide legal assistance or just the authority of their organisations to stand up to this sort of pressure. So I like to make this statement here tonight simultaneously commending those who did step forward and provide testimony in the inquest.

As an organisation we are satisfied with today's verdict but we are concerned by some of the way the legal proceedings were handled. There were instances were witnesses were not allowed to testify – some who had taken video footage in the area where Fabio was shot. Judges ruled that some of this testimony would have been redundant with what prior witnesses have said. That this had raised concerns while the proceedings were going that perhaps they will not being held fairly and this would provide a way out for the authorities.

It's a plight we want to raise because we believe in the next days as we head towards criminal proceedings that the prosecution should be allowed to submit any and all evidence they want to the court without refusal.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

We also like to take this opportunity to call on government authorities to redouble their efforts in identifying the man in this silver helmet seen in videos who took Fabio's camera from him when he was shot and killed. There are clear pictures of this individual and yet we are here three years later and we still do not know who he was or what his role was. We call on the authorities to redouble their efforts in that regard. 

Well, there is no precedent to believe that Thailand's courts will ultimately prosecute individual soldiers or politicians for Fabio's death. We are nonetheless hopeful that today’s verdict will be the first step towards ending Thailand's sorry record of impunity in w... related media murders. We are are hopeful that's what today represents.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

The possible outcome of Fabio's case would not necessarily be revenge against those responsible for her brothers death but rather, as she put it, an opportunity to open the door for a change in culture. Let's hope for the sake of all working journalists in Thailand that that is what today's verdict signals: an end to the culture of impunity and beginning of a culture of accountability.

Thank you.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)


Photo by an unknown photographer


Excerpts of Elisabetta Polenghi statement:

Elisabetta Polenghi, sister of Fabio Polenghi

Sadly we did not record the complete statement of Elisabetta and the sound quality of some recorded passages is extremely bad. Therefore the statement is incomplete and sometimes I had to leave out words which I could not understand correctly (marked as  ... ). Sometimes I added names or words (enclosed in brackets) for better understanding. Nonetheless you can get an impression of her feelings, motivation and intentions.

...I want to thank first of all – since the beginning I have been helped by many, many people started from Masaru Goto who was one of the witnesses I met.

And let me tell you how it start(ed). When I met Masaru Goto the first time it was the second day I just arrived in Bangkok. The day before I met my Embassy, I met my ambassador. I was told by him what the government has probably told him. And so he said to me:”Your brother was running up and down from the front-line. Up and down, nobody understand why he was acting like that and probably a Red Shirt shot him.” I said:” Wow, you already know! Or do you really know what happened?”

I didn't have any idea what was Red Shirt, Yellow Shirt or whatever. In this country I was just coming to see my brother and to understand what happened.
So this kind of approach that I have since when I was there talking with him (the ambassador) right five minutes - show me, show me a map. And I was thinking: Why do I have to believe that my brother was a stupid man running up and down in a dangerous (here she was asked to wait for the translation).

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

So I said why should I believe that my brother was intend to kill himself like they were trying to make me think. I knew Fabio very well. I knew that he was knowing, very well, it was a very tight situation. My brother, he was knowing that he was in dangerous place. I am sure he was, I am sure, he was active.
But at that time I didn't have any idea so I just said to myself: OK, let's try to meet all of friends you can meet, witnesses you can meet and try for me to understand how is the reality.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

So I decided - and Jeanne (Hallacy) can tell that and others can tell – at that moment that I didn't have to meet anyone from government, anyone from soldiers, anyone even from Human Rights. I asked my friends, Fabio's friends, not to meet with no one other, but I just want meet with some of his old friends.
So, all started from Eve (?) who was a very good friend of my brother and from Facebook. At that time Facebook made it very, very short for me to put together information and people could reach me.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

I didn't even to meet Human Rights or no-one because I didn't want putting myself influence. I didn't want to be influenced from anyone. I didn't want to let people, all people, any people use at that moment my brother to (for) their own projects, agenda. I was actually split in two. My head was split in two. One was really broken up. I felt so bad. My brother wasn't there any more.
But on the other side I felt ... that why I needed it was to stay away from everything to be able to understand by my own and to get some point to make up my mind to what happened.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong) my room at the hotel. And he (Masaru Goto) embraced me and he started crying. And I couldn't stop him crying. He was so sorry, so shocked so at the end I felt sorry for him and I understood that he leaved such a – I can think it can be the worst things he could live in his life to see a colleague shot just next to him. And I was there trying to help to get out of sorrow. So we were like to exchange sorrows. And I was feeling very bad and I did not know how to help him. And then we stopped and then we started to look for footage, to look for video that Bradley Cox sent us by mail. Always even was working with us. Actually we realised on those days tape Fabio's shot, where he was shot, what happened, how many people were surrounding Fabio and how many journalists. I just realised that Fabio was surrounded by so many other colleagues. And while I was imagining by what the ambassador told me was a totally different situation.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

Since the beginning I tried my best not to be influenced by one side or another. Second time I came here. It was the time that I said OK now I am coming to meet institutions like some from the government, police and DSI because I was asking for Fabio autopsy. So the second journey for these kind of things. And I was feeling better to meet someone and I am pretty direct, I want to be direct with you: at that time I met one man, one people, I don't even remember how I got to him or how he got to me. Before I left I met a man from Red Shirts. And we met and he said to me:”If you want to do something for your brother you should work abroad because here you not going to take out nothing from - (talking to Shawn) – you should go, working on this case not here in Thailand, you will not obtain nothing here, just as you not gonna know the truth. So walk abroad” - And I told him:" .... from Red Shirt..... Look, I don't want to my brother involved into politic issues and I don't know what's the problem is.
What I care is of course to help and have a situation, a way to help photo journalists like Fabio. I knew that they – in the world – they are more and more targets deliberately. So this is a very, very big problem. And that was my intention, that was why I started to be so involved into the case of …..because my brother was killed. I was moved by the true size.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

The more I understood that there was really no reason to shoot him as Fabio was running away. He has been shot back - from the back from the soldiers. And obviously he was unarmed, he was armed by his camera, that was taken away - as Shawn reminded before – And I start to understand and I also got into the issue that so many other people were killed at the same way and I started to be more interested even in Thailand issues, inside issues. And now I try to do my best to keep Fabio away from the inside problems. But of course we are all grown up and we know that Fabio is actually - if a government or army or who ever shot journalist – we can't tell that is not a political problem. If you don't want to be blind, then we know that this is actually a political problem. So, what I could do by my own is of course to treat Fabio's case as apolitical problem. Leaving (him) his nature and his nature is international, not having border, and treat his case how his nature was have been. All in all he was Italian but that does not matter. He could have been even African or so or from any other country, it would have been the same.
But of course it is a political problem and it is also from this for my country didn't help me so much. So that' is actually a political problem.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

…(Elisabetta explains her thoughts about the proposed Amnesty Bill)... But I don't want to get to that point. The other one is that amnesty is ... for everybody. So that means everybody (nobody) will not be (held) responsible (for) what has been done. And I strongly ask this government not to do it, not to vote. I ask you people who will go to vote for this amnesty bill: The day before they (you) are going to vote, think about their (your) children, think about ordinary people and all the ones who had been killed. And … we are fighting since three years, we are all fighting. And Thailand more than now since many years ago is fighting for change of this impunity culture. So they should really put their hand up on their heart before they going (to) vote for such a bad amnesty (bill). It's not the time.

We are not, I think by myself, I can tell you, asking for revenge. What we are asking is that these people at least have to be removed, revoked their duty. I don't want to give a pain to no-one but there must be a penalty. Here we have to find a penalty. Than, than we have to give amnesty to people who was out of (were not part of the) big games of policy (politics). Because now we have to free the ordinary people, they were out of these big game, they were just victims of this game.
We lost our loved and more. We suffered for people alive - in another way their live has taken away.

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

...Today my mother signed me the power out for me to act on her behalf. Now it's just to understand the way how technically I can go on. An I need, I need to be helped, I need to be helped this time because I really need to – no – I have to – it will take a lot of time again. So, I think but, but my willing is not to stop.
(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

(Elisabetta explained that she got an invitation by Abhisit Vejjajiva for a private meeting and that she refused to meet him in private and instead offered him to join the panel at the FCCT this evening to explain his view on the case. Abhisit declined the request because of his tight time schedule.)

...Abhisit made by a friend reporter who met Abhisit – so I was approached by him, that happened two months ago, and then I didn't wrote him back, because I was in Italy. I wasn't in any sense (mood) to write him in that moment, I had to think about what to do.

So when I was coming here for this occasion of the ruling day. I made up my mind and I wrote to him a mail, telling him, that could have been the occasion to meet at the FCCT. That I was going to held at the FCCT a press conference. He (Abhisit) just replied to me that he is very busy in these days and then … (insist?) to me in a different way and then I just wrote again and told him that I am sorry and that I just can offer you this way, this way to come to the FCCT.

Question by Jeanne Hallacy: "At least that was two invitations if I am not mistaken? Right? We had a formal opening on this photo exhibition last Friday night-" Elisabetta interrupted:"No, I didn't, I didn't told him to come to the opening. I was running to leave and to come here from Milano at that time. I just …. for printing pictures and things. But than when I came here I wrote him again. Actually, the 19th , the day of the commemoration I had a mail from him asking me to meet him in a different situation because he was busy."

(Translation into Thai by Pipob Udomittipong)

Sometimes we try to move the problem forward we don't want to face.
And I stop here.


  1. Das Statement seiner Schwester Elisabetta Polenghi finde ich sehr bewegend! Was für eine mutige, kraftvolle Frau!

    1. Ja, sie ist sehr beeindruckend. Sie und ihr Bruder standen sich sehr nahe. Und sie kaempft diesen Kampf um Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit, obwohl sie weiss, dass sie nicht gewinnen kann.