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June 27, 2011

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What Really Happened to Hiro Muramoto

In addition to some other well known recent publications, the former Reuters journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall has written about the internal investigations into the death of his former colleague Hiro Muramoto, a cameraman who was killed by gunfire while covering the political crisis of 2010.  As has been reported on this blog, the government has changed its story in a most surprising turnaround on the Muramoto case, raising serious concerns of a cover-up of responsibility of the Thai Army for his death, which would indicate their random firing into the crowds of unarmed protesters.

Below is an excerpt from his posting – we fully recommend that you head over to read this important article in full.

It is also worth putting on record that in all the cases I was closely involved with, senior Reuters management were fully supportive and, when necessary, courageous.

Things were very different when it came to Hiro, however. I was troubled to discover from senior management sources that not only was Reuters not allowing me to report the findings of the third-party investigation the company had commissioned, but that it had also failed to even share these findings privately with the Thai authorities. It is sometimes necessary to maintain confidentiality about sensitive investigations while working with national and/or military and police authorities: sometimes going public too soon will alienate people we need to co-operate with. But in my experience, it is unprecedented for Reuters to not even share internal findings privately with the relevant authorities: it leaves the company exposed to the accusation it has failed in its duty to assist the authorities in their job uncovering the truth. I sent detailed messages to senior managers explaining why I thought the behaviour of Reuters on Hiro was both unethical and counterproductive. Some time later I was told that a decision had been made to redact the third-party investigation report and remove the name of the company that conducted the investigation and also remove the names of sources who provided information. A redacted extract would be provided privately to Thai authorities. I considered this inadequate in many ways but nevertheless better than nothing, and waited for progress.

On March 24, Thai police officially “confirmed” the DSI’s new findings that there was no evidence Hiro had been killed by the Thai military.

April 10 was the first anniversary of Hiro’s death. A few days beforehand, the Reuters managing editor for Asia circulated an e-mail notifying staff that a minute’s silence would be held in his memory. I replied asking once again – in my capacity as a senior editor with responsibility for political and general news coverage on Thailand, among other countries – whether I could report on the evidence in Reuters possession suggesting authorities were lying in their latest findings on Hiro. I was given a stern talking to. Among the reasons I was given for the company’s failure to share the information was that under Thai law it had been illegal for them to commission a third-party investigation into Hiro’s death, and that when commissioning the report, their agreement with the company that handled the investigation was that it would remain confidential. I did not consider these adequate reasons to withhold important findings about Hiro’s death, and I said so.

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1 Comment
  1. Marcus Collins
    Jun 27 2011

    Luckily half the pages specified by Andrew MacGregor Marshall have been blocked by MICT in Thailand. That is at least when you have CAT or TOT as a provider. Incidentally those are the providers who have a virtual monopoly in the opposition areas in the countryside. Although the Thai government must know that everybody is circumventing their censured pages by using a proxy, it shows how much they really have to hide.

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