Subject: Garuda staff nabbed over Munir murder [2 reports]

also: Indonesia ex-Garuda chief arrested in murder probe
Announcement of new suspects linked to UN rights commission hearing

The Jakarta Post Sunday, April 15, 2007

Garuda staff nabbed over Munir murder

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta

Police have officially detained two new suspects in relation to the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

The two officials from national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia were arrested Saturday following police questioning.

One of the suspects, former Garuda president director Indra Setiawan, was taken into custody by police early Saturday morning while at a friend's house in Tebet, South Jakarta. Indra arrived at National Police headquarters at around 4 a.m.

The secretary to Garuda's Airbus chief pilot, Rohainil Aini, was also arrested and taken to National Police headquarters at around 8:30 a.m.. She was later transferred to Curug, Tangerang, Banten.

"The arrest warrants had been issued and signed at 5 p.m. They are officially arrested," said Garuda Indonesia's lawyer, M. Assegaf.

"Police investigators were afraid the two would escape ... and get rid of the evidence," Assegaf said, adding that the manner in which his clients were arrested was deplorable.

"They were arrested as if they were terrorists. The police did not have to arrest Pak Indra at almost 4 a.m.," Assegaf said.

"All the police needed to do was submit a letter requesting their presence at the National Police headquarters for questioning. Then they could have detained him."

Munir was a critic of the Indonesian Military (TNI), accusing it of rights violations in the troubled provinces of Aceh and Papua and of running a network involved in illegal logging and drug smuggling.

Munir's widow, Suciwati, has reportedly received anonymous threats demanding she not implicate the TNI in her husband's death.

Munir was found dead Sept. 7, 2004, on the GA 974 Garuda flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which included a stopover in Singapore.

Assegaf also questioned police for changing the official crime scene from the Garuda jetliner to Singapore's Changi Airport.

"Police previously said that the crime scene was the plane during the flight from Jakarta to Singapore where Pollycarpus put the arsenic into Munir's drink," he said.

"But now they say the crime scene was Changi Airport in Singapore."

National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Bambang Hendarso said Thursday new evidence had come to light which could again implicate Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budi Haripriyanto, who was flying with Munir on the date of his death.

The Supreme Court overruled an earlier verdict of 14 years imprisonment for Pollycarpus's involvement in Munir's death, sentencing him instead to only two years in prison for forging his assignment letter to appear as an aviation security officer.

In addition to Pollycarpus, the police had also named three other suspects -- Garuda's vice president for security affairs Ramelgia Anwar and flight attendants Oedi Irianto and Yeti Susmiarti -- though their dossiers have not yet been passed on to the public prosecutor's office.

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Indonesia ex-Garuda chief arrested in murder probe

JAKARTA, April 14 (Reuters) - A former head of Indonesian carrier Garuda and another airline official have been arrested in connection with the murder of a leading rights campaigner who was poisoned during a flight, an airline lawyer said on Saturday.

Munir Thalib, known for his critical views on the military, was murdered during a flight on Garuda when he was on his way to the Netherlands for postgraduate studies in 2004.

In October, the Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict of off-duty pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto in the murder case, saying there was not enough evidence and no witness to support the case.

The acquittal put pressure on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who had vowed to get to the bottom of the case when he took office in late 2004.

"Our clients, Indra Setiawan, former president director of Garuda, and Rohainil Aini, a flight operations officer, were arrested and are being held by the police at this moment," Garuda's lawyer, M. Assegaf, told reporters.

"Indra Setiawan and Rohainil Aini are suspected of aiding Pollycarpus in the murder of a person, in this case, Munir," he said.

"We will study this arrest carefully because Pollycarpus, who was investigated and brought to court by the help of Indra Setiawan and Rohainil, was acquitted by the court."

On Thursday, the Indonesian police chief said two new suspects had been named in the probe because of their links to issuing a fake document that allowed Priyanto to be on board under the pretense of a security assignment. He did not reveal the names of the two suspects.

A district level court had sentenced Priyanto to 14 years' jail in December 2005 and an appellate court upheld the finding he put arsenic in food served to Munir.

However, the Supreme Court ruled there was not enough evidence and no witness to support the case.

Munir was an outspoken critic of the military and its methods in quashing dissent and separatists in hotspots such as Aceh and Papua provinces.

A Garuda Indonesia pilot himself, Priyanto had said he was on an assignment supervising security on the Jakarta-Singapore leg of Munir's flight. He gave his business-class seat to Munir during that leg.

Human rights groups say the government has not pressed the investigation or Priyanto's possible ties to others hard enough.

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Joyo Indonesia News Service

Announcement of new suspects linked to UN rights commission hearing

Kompas - April 12, 2007

Jakarta, Kompas -- The announcement by Indonesian police chief General Sutanto of the initials of two new suspects in the Munir murder case has raised questions among members of the House of Representatives (DPR) and activist circles. They are asking what the police actually want to solve, a case of document falsification or Munir's murder.

Speaking at the State Palace, Sutanto asked all parties to be patient and wait for the conclusion of the police investigation into the murder. The investigation is still continuing and it is possible that the number of suspects could grow. "The investigation is still proceeding. If everything is finished, it will be announced. Please be patient", said Sutanto on Wednesday April 11. The day before Sutanto announced the initials of two suspects, IS and R saying that both are from Garuda Indonesia airlines.

In relation to the investigation and the naming of the two new suspects, Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi said that the president had yet to receive a report from Sutanto because it was not yet reached the stage where it must be reported. The president is following developments in the investigation of the Munir case that has attracted the attention of the mass media.

Not just a sweetener

The head of the DPR's Commission III, Trimedya Pandjaitan said he appreciates the developments achieved by police in cracking the Munir's murder. He hopes however that this achievement is not just a sweetener in the lead up to the United National Human Rights Commission hearing. "The cracking of the Munir case should not end with two people, but uncover the links in the chain in order to discover who Munir's murderer actually is", he continued.

Commission III member Nursyahbani Katjasungkana from the National Awakening Fraction is also asking Sutanto to quickly conclude the investigation and report the results to the public.

Non-government organisation (NGO) activists also held a press conference in Jakarta. NGO activists Amiruddin Al Raham said he suspects that the two new suspects are linked with efforts to secure the re- nomination of Indonesia as a member of the UN Human Rights Commission who will be elected in late May.

Former Munir Fact Finding Team member Asmara Nababan raised questions about the basis for Sutanto to cite the initials IS and R. Are they being named as suspects in the murder case or just in relation to the falsification of documents, as was the case in the previous suspect Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.

"We are taking issue with the status of the two initials of the new suspects. What actually needs to be investigated is the murder case, right, and not the falsification of documents at Garuda. Indeed what business is it of Garuda's to want to murder Munir", he said. (dwa/nwo/sut/sf)

[Translated by James Balowski.]


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