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Thaïland 12 February 2003

Journalist shot dead on tourist island

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) expressed outrage today at the murder of a journalist in the tourist island resort of Phuket and called on the Thai government to find and punish those responsible.

The journalist, Surapong Ritthi, correspondent in the southern province of Phuket for the country’s biggest Thai-language daily, Thai Rath, and the independent TV station Channel 3, was killed on 11 February by a man who followed him into a grocery shop near the famous Patong beach and shot him twice in the head before fleeing. 

"If this crime remains unpunished, all journalists will feel threatened," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to interior minister Wanmuhamadnoor Matha.  He called for a "thorough and serious" investigation into the crime.

According to the daily The Nation, local police chief Col. Chalit Thinthani said the journalist knew about all the business scandals in the area and had written about illegal activities in entertainment and gambling.  He had recently reported on sex shows in a Patong Beach go-go bar which police had then closed down. Thinthani said police did not however rule out a personal quarrel as motive for the crime.

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