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Remains of slain Japanese journalist returned from Thailand

TOKYO, April 13 (AFP) - The body of a Japanese journalist who was shot dead in bloody weekend clashes between Thai troops and anti-government protesters was returned home on Tuesday.

Hiro Muramoto, a 43-year-old TV cameraman with Thomson Reuters, was shot in the chest while covering the Bangkok unrest on Saturday.

A Japan Airlines flight carrying his remains landed at Narita airport, where airport officials placed a white flower bouquet on the cargo container holding his coffin.

Olivier Fabre, senior producer at Reuters Television in Tokyo, who brought back the journalist's camera, read a statement by Muramoto's wife.

"The sorrow that we have lost him is so devastating that I cannot find words to describe it," her statement said. "But I have to feel strong as the mother of two daughters."

Thai soldiers and protesters have accused each other of using live rounds in the clashes, in which 21 people were killed and over 800 wounded, following month-long rallies.

The Thai government has denied soldiers targeted protesters with live rounds. The army said some soldiers had fired live ammunition into the air to try to disperse demonstrators while others used blanks and rubber bullets.

Japanese authorities said they would conduct an autopsy to find out if the death was a criminal matter and would seek help from the Thai police and foreign ministry, Jiji Press reported.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told reporters: "Our authorities will conduct the necessary investigation. The foreign ministry will make diplomatic efforts to call on the Thai government to firmly pursue the facts of the case."

MySinchew 2010.04.13



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