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Thailand 7 October 2008

Local newspaper editor gunned down, fourth journalist murdered this year

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the murder of Wallop Bounsampop, the editor of Den Siam, a local newspaper in Chonburi province (to the south of Bangkok), on 5 October. The motive is not yet known but some of his articles on local politics had earned him enemies. He is the fourth journalist to be murdered in Thailand since the start of the year.

“We are seeing an unprecedented wave of murders of journalists in Thailand and we call on the police and judicial authorities to give themselves the means to deal with it,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If no real progress is made in solving these four cases, more journalists are likely to be killed at a time when Thailand is still embroiled in a political crisis.”

Wallop, 52, was helping his wife in a restaurant in his village when two men on a motorcycle fired five shots at him, hitting him twice in the head and killing him instantly.

Wallop’s murder could be linked to his articles on local politics, which had caused controversy. He was an active member of his district council and he had criticised some of his opponents in articles about the local elections due to take place next month.

Somsak Phusrisak, the governor of the central province of Suphanburi, where Matichon correspondent Jaruek Rangcharoen was gunned down on 27 September, has meanwhile reported that the police are on the verge of arresting the leading suspect in that murder thanks to a facial composite drawn with the help of witnesses.

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