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Thailand 30 September 2008

Another provincial correspondent of Bangkok daily gunned down

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the murder of Jaruek Rangcharoen, the Bangkok-based Matichon daily’s correspondent in the central province of Suphanburi. He was shot several times in the head as he shopped in a local market while on his way home on 27 September. The killing is thought to be linked to his reporting on local government corruption.

“We urge the police chief and other competent authorities to move quickly to ensure that both the perpetrators and the masterminds are brought to justice,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This murder was clearly premeditated and it is vital that the investigators focus on those who were behind it.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The current political crisis should not be used as an excuse for allowing impunity to take hold in cases of crimes of violence against the press. Otherwise Thailand could end up in the same tragic situation as the Philippines, where many journalists are murdered each year.”

Rangcharoen, 46, was the second Matichon reporter to be murdered this year. Ahiwat Chainurat, its correspondent in the southern city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, was gunned down on 1 August. The investigation has stalled and no arrests have been made.

A Matichon journalist told Reporters Without Borders that Rangcharoen’s murder was probably linked to his coverage of corruption allegations involving local politicians. “He did investigative journalism, he probed and he often provided Matichon with information about local corruption,” the journalist said.

“The police went to Rangcharoen’s home and took his laptop in the hope of finding clues in it,” the journalist added. “He also had a desktop computer which they apparently did not take. So far, the police have set up a special team and they say they are just at the start of their investigation.”

Suphanburi’s governor said Rangcharoen’s outspoken articles had for some time been bringing him into conflict with local politicians, officials and businessmen. He said last year he suspected he was the target of a plot.

The Thai Journalists Association has appealed to the police to identify and arrest the people behind his murder.

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