The partner and common-law husband of Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto has called on the Syrian capital of Damascus to investigate her death on August 20th after being shot by pro-government forces. Kazutaka Sato, who was right next to Yamamoto during the ambush in Aleppo, is speaking out about the recent discovery that the Syrian government issued orders to begin targeting foreign journalists. 56 year old Sato says he believes Syrian leaders are now afraid of foreign journalists reporting the facts of the conflict to the outside world, and adds that the international community could never forgive intentional attacks on reporters.
Kazutaka Sato and 45 year old Mika Yamamoto, an experienced war correspondent, were reporting for the Japan Press and traveling with a small group of rebel forces through the city of Aleppo. Some of the pair’s final video footage was released just after her death, including the moments right up to the ambush from pro-government troops, where Sato describes them as firing at “extremely close range.” As Yamamoto’s colleague and husband, Sato has delivered a formal letter to the Syrian embassy in Tokyo, requesting an investigation into her death, as well as attacks on journalists who report information the government finds unfavorable.
Yamamoto’s body was accompanied home to Japan by Sato, and her funeral was held in Yamanashi, near Tokyo, last week. An autopsy was performed that revealed she had been shot nine times, and the exact cause of death was a bullet to the neck that damaged her spinal cord. She had previously covered conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had a personal motivation of telling the stories of women and children in conflict zones. Over 26,000 people have been killed since the Syrian fighting began last March, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, with more than two-thirds of the victims being civilians.[via Daily Telegraph]