Thailand: cash payouts to victims with strings attached

A Thai anti-government red shirt protester hurls a large firecracker over a barricade during clashes on May 18, 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.


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For some time now, it has appeared highly unlikely that the gunmen responsible for massive bloodshed in Bangkok's 2010 political chaos -- both soldiers and anonymous anti-government commandoes -- would ever face trial.

In a report last week, I wrote:

"No soldier or official has been charged. The identities of armed commandoes within protest camps, who sometimes resisted troops with their own military-grade weapons, remain a mystery."

Just one week later, the prospect of gunmen facing punishment feels even more remote.

According to today's Bangkok Post, victims' relatives were invited to a government ceremony to receive financial compensation. (Families of those killed could expect up to $246,000.)

Before they were handed checks on stage -- yes, cartoonishly large Price is Right-style checks -- families were asked to sign a form promising they'd drop any lawsuits connected to their slain family members, according to the Post.

In other words? Take the check. Drop the lawsuit.

Several families are still pursuing civil suits that are partly designed to help reveal their loved ones' killers. Among them: the family of "Nurse Kate," a protester and paramedic shot several times while tending to a wounded fellow demonstrator. As I've written previously, they've received anonymous phone calls badgering them to drop their crusade.

The family openly blames the military. But Thailand's army chief, according to Thai-language newspaper Thai Rath, has testily told them to stop expecting an apology.

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