Subject: AP: Indonesia Drops Probe Into Dutch Reporter's Killing

Also: Reporters Without Borders outraged

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Indonesia Drops Probe Into Dutch Reporter's Killing

JAKARTA, June 13 (AP)--Indonesian prosecutors dropped their investigation into the killing of a Dutch journalist in East Timor that took place in 1999, a spokesman said Thursday.

Dutch authorities have carried out their own investigation into the murder of Financial Times reporter Sander Thoenes and identified a serving Indonesian soldier as a prime suspect. The Netherlands said it was disappointed and confused by Indonesia's decision.

"We don't think there is any reason to drop this case," Bart Jochem, a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman, told The Associated Press. "We know what the evidence is, and we think there is more than enough reason to bring this case to court."

Attorney General's Office spokesman Barman Zahir said investigators had determined there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute.

"In the meantime, we will not be continuing the case," said Zahir told the AP. "Later, if new evidence or suspects come up, it can be continued."

Zahir said that a witness identified by the Dutch police as key to the investigation was unreliable and continually changed his story.

Zahir also said there were conflicting autopsy reports on the state of Thoenes' corpse. Australian doctors said it bore gunshot wounds, while Indonesian physicians found stab marks. Zahir said the discrepancy was unexplained.

Thoenes was forced off his motorbike and killed in East Timor's capital Dili soon after he arrived in the city to cover the arrival of an international peacekeeping force and the withdrawal of Indonesian troops in 1999.

Peacekeepers were deployed in East Timor after the Indonesian military went on a rampage following a U.N.-sponsored vote for independence. Hundreds of people were killed and much of the territory was left in ruins.

Indonesia had pledged to prosecute Thoenes' killers in cooperation with U.N. investigators in East Timor. Dutch police have been conducting a separate investigation but have shared their findings with Indonesia.

Dutch police said earlier this year several eye witnesses had told them that Second Lieutenant Camillo dos Santos was Thoenes' killer. Dos Santos has denied any involvement.

At the Hague, Dutch officials said Thursday they weren't sure what to believe. They said Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda assured them during a visit to the Netherlands last week that the case wasn't closed.

The Dutch Embassy in Jakarta received a letter Thursday from Indonesian Attorney General Muhammad Abdul Rachman stating the case was closed.

"These two communications are contradictory," said Jochem, the Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman. "We'd like to know what is really happening on this case. Is this a misunderstanding or what? That is what we are trying to find out."


June 14, 2002 International Secretariat Asia ­ Pacific Desk 5, rue Geoffroy Marie - 75009 Paris France Tel: (33) 1 44 83 84 70 Fax: (33) 1 45 23 11 51 E-mail: asie@rsf.org Web: www.rsf.org www.press-freedom.org

INDONESIA

Reporters Without Borders outraged at the closure of investigations into the murder of journalist Sander Thoenes

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontières) has voiced its indignation following the announcement by the Indonesian legal authorities that investigations into the murder of Dutch journalist Sander Thoenes have been dropped. "We are more than surprised and disappointed at this decision, which comes at a time when investigations were nearing their conclusion and suspects had been identified," says Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of the organisation, in a letter to the Minister for Justice and Human Rights, Yusril Ihza Mahendra. "It is imperative that the legal authorities review this decision; the Sander Thoenes case must not be another victory for impunity in Indonesia," concludes Mr Ménard. Reporters Without Borders are supporting Mr Thoenes' family's call for the case to be transferred to the international courts.

According to information obtained by the organisation, Barman Zahir, spokesman for the Attorney General's department in Jakarta, announced on 13 June 2002 that proceedings in the case of Mr Thoenes, a Dutch journalist working for the Financial Times who was killed in East Timor on 21 September 1999, were being dropped. According to the Attorney General, investigators did not have sufficient "evidence" to bring charges against the principal suspect, Lieutenant Camillo dos Santos, an officer of the Indonesian army's Batallion 745 which was deployed in the East Timorese capital, Dili, when the events took place. Dos Santos was formally identified earlier this year as the principal suspect by a number of eye-witnesses questioned by Dutch police, who have been carrying out their own independent investigations and have kept the Indonesian authorities regularly informed of their progress. Indonesian prosecutors said the Dutch investigators' key witness was not "trustworthy" and frequently changed his statement. Also, while the results of the autopsy carried out by Australian forensic scientists noted bullet wounds on the journalist's body, the conclusions of the Indonesian autopsy described knife wounds.

The announcement that the case is to be closed comes at a time when investigators appeared to be on the point of reaching a conclusion. Mr Thoenes' family and the Dutch government were expecting a trial to take place in Indonesia. Bart Jochem, spokesman for the Dutch Foreign Minister, stated that there was "no reason for this case to be closed". According to Mr Jochem, "there is more than one reason for bringing this case before a court." The journalist's family has appealed to the international community for "the murder of Sander Thoenes and other crimes committed in East Timor to be brought before an international tribunal, as the tribunal for East Timor set up by Indonesia is not making serious progress".

see also Hopes dim for international tribunal in Thoenes case
CPJ: CPJ disturbed by announcement to abandon murder investigation
Tapol: Failure to prosecute killers of Dutch journalist a victory for impunity


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