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Photos released of murdered Japanese journalist

Warning: this article contains graphic images

Oct 27, 2009 (DVB), Images of the post-mortem examination on the body of a Japanese journalist shot dead by Burmese police during the September 2007 protests have been released for the first time.

Accompanied by the images obtained by DVB of the body of Kenji Nagai, who worked for Tokyo's APF news agency, are photographs of the possessions he carried when he died. Separate footage captured by DVB reporters filming the demonstrations appears to show Nagai carrying a camera that has not been included in the exhibit of his possessions.

A letter sent in November 2007 by Japanese activists to Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) protesting the shooting had demanded that the camera and videotape be returned to Nagai's family "without any modifications to the recorded material". The family has since received all of his belongings apart from the camera and videotape.

Subsequent footage released on Japanese television showed a government soldier taking the camera. A wristwatch that Nagai was wearing when he died is also missing from the exhibit photograph.

Nagai was killed by a single bullet-wound to the chest as he filmed monks and civilians protesting on the streets of Rangoon, in what has now come to be known as the Saffron Revolution.

The Japanese prime minister at the time described the killing as "extremely unfortunate", while the government's chief cabinet secretary demanded an investigation into the incident.

Relations between the two countries temporarily soured after the shooting, with Japan halting aid to Burma. This was resumed however following cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

Nagai was the only foreigner to have been killed during protests which lasted for eight days before the government launched a brutal crackdown, killing scores of monks and students in the process.

Up to 50,000 people are thought to have been involved in the demonstrations which erupted after the government hiked up fuel prices overnight, in some cases to five times their original price.

Since his death, an award has been created in Nagai's name to honour reporters documenting human rights abuses in Burma.

The first recipient of the award was Eint Khaing Oo, a female journalist who was imprisoned after reporting on cyclone Nargis. She has since been released.

The Times quoted an associate of Nagai's who said the 50-year-old was "relentless" in his pursuit of stories. He had previously documented conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia and Palestine.

Reporting by Francis Wade


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