Bangkok, Oct 10 (EFE).- A CNN news team has apologized and the outlet has taken down its video report from inside the crime scene of Thailand’s nursery massacre following public outrage and criticism.
“Unimaginable suffering from #ThailandMassacre @CNN speaks to families of the victims,” CNN correspondent Anna Coren tweeted over the weekend along with a link to a news clip in which she spoke into the camera from inside the Uthai Sawan nursery, pointing out blood on floors and on children’s belongings.
That clip and a photograph taken by a journalist showing Coren and cameraman Daniel Hodge climbing out of the nursery’s police cordon after they had been filming inside sparked swift public condemnation.
The pair were questioned by police on Sunday and they apologized in a video distributed on social media.
“I would like to offer my deepest apologies to the people of Thailand, especially families of the victims of this tragedy. We are so sorry if we have caused you more pain and suffering. That was never our intention,” Coren said with Hodge standing behind her.
They were given fines of 5,000 baht ($132) for working on tourist visas and were to leave Thailand after the police investigation ended, deputy national police chief Surachate Hakparn said late Sunday night.
No charges would be laid because they entered the crime scene due to miscommunication, he added.
CNN’s public relations department had earlier said the reporters entered the nursery on permission of health officials, but in a late-night statement, CNN International’s executive vice president and general manager Mike McCarthy said that “the team now understands that these officials were not authorized to grant this permission.”
He added that it had taken down the video from its website and ceased broadcasting the report.
“We deeply regret distress or offense our report may have caused, and for any inconvenience to the Thai police at such a distressing time for the country,” he said.
Netizens and Thai journalist organizations had questioned the ethics of the CNN reporters.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand called the incident “unprofessional and a serious breach of journalistic ethics in crime reporting.”
“Thailand has been traumatized by this tragedy and there has been wide concern all along that inappropriate images should not be made public in traditional and social media. Simple respect for the deceased and their families is but one of the reasons,” it added.
“Would one of their crews have behaved in the same way at a serious crime scene in the United States?”
The Thai Journalists Association said it had “received numerous complaints from members of the public” that CNN had entered “a clearly marked crime scene,” which it labeled “a seriously flawed decision that no professional media should have taken.”
“Images aired by CNN also contain graphic material without a clear appeal to public interest that may cause distress to the audience in a nation that very recently suffered a traumatic tragedy,” it added, demanding answers from both CNN and Thai authorities.
Meanwhile, Buddhist funeral rites continued Monday in three temples of Uthai Sawan for relatives and friends to farewell their loved ones.
The perpetrator of the massacre, in which 37 were killed including at least 22 children, was identified as Panya Kamrarb, a 34-year-old former police officer who was arrested for methamphetamine possession and expelled from the force.
Early Thursday afternoon he burst into the nursery and carried out the attack, killing mostly children while they were napping, authorities said.
He then fled in a white pickup truck, sparking a manhunt, and went to his house where he murdered his wife and son before committing suicide.