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Thailand 16 February 2005

Newspaper editor gunned down in southern city

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the murder of Pongkiat Saetang, the editor of the bimonthly Had Yai Post, on 14 February in the southern city of Had Yai. He was known for being critical of some local figures.

"Any journalist in the south of the country who writes about corruption and nepotism will feel in danger if the police do not shed light on this case and consider all possible motives," the organization said in a letter to interior minister Bhokin Bhalakula, asking to be kept informed of the results of the investigation.

Saetang was shot twice in the back as he was riding his motorcycle down a street near a market on the morning of 14 February. The gunman fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice. Saetang died instantly.

The press freedom organization SEAPA reported that the victim’s wife, Suchin Saetang, told the police the murder could be linked to various reports that had been published in the Had Yai Post about corruption and abuse of authority by some local politicians. She said her husband had received anonymous telephone threats.

Aged 54, Saetang was sometimes scathing in his criticism of local political practices. Editing the Had Yai Post was his only known job. The police are not ruling out any motive in the murder.

Two journalists were killed in Thailand in 2003 but it is still impossible to say if their murders were linked to their work as journalists.

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