Subject: AGE: BIN ordered Munir killing, prosecutors

The Age - August 17, 2007

Agency 'ordered killing' By Mark Forbes, Jakarta

Indonesian activist on hit-list: police

Indonesia's Intelligence Agency had ordered several assassination attempts against leading human rights activist Munir Thalib before poisoning him on a trip to Europe in 2004, a police investigation has revealed.

The claims, presented to a Jakarta court yesterday, reopened hearings into the controversial murder case. They should also force President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to reform the feared agency and prosecute senior officials, human rights groups said.

A new investigation was ordered by Dr Yudhoyono after an initial murder conviction of an off-duty Garuda pilot and alleged intelligence agency (BIN) agent, Pollycarpus Priyanto, was overturned last year.

The police team interviewed other BIN agents, who revealed they had also been ordered to try to kill Mr Munir before the October 2004 presidential election.

Mr Munir had angered powerful military and intelligence figures by revealing human rights abuses in Papua and Aceh along with military involvement in drug trafficking and illegal logging. His murder became Indonesia's most infamous and its investigation a test case for reform efforts.

Witnesses who saw Pollycarpus take a drink to Mr Munir during a stopover in Singapore during a flight to Amsterdam in September 2004 were also found by police. Pollycarpus had previously claimed he left Singapore airport without seeing Mr Munir.

New scientific tests established Mr Munir was poisoned with arsenic during the stopover and died an agonising death during the flight.

Prosecutors also revealed that the former executive director of national airline Garuda, Indra Setiawan, said he assigned Pollycarpus to travel on Mr Munir's flight following a written demand from a senior BIN officer. Both Mr Setiawan and another senior Garuda official are in custody and are expected to be charged with being accessories to the murder.

One intelligence agent, Raden Mohammad Patma Anwar, told investigators he and others had been ordered to assassinate Mr Munir and had tested poisons, along with approaching psychics.

Phone records also show that Pollycarpus made 41 calls to the mobile number of a deputy director of BIN in the days before and after the murder, prosecutors told the court.

Despite claims by Pollycarpus' legal team that it was unprecedented and illegal to allow prosecutors to appeal for a new hearing after charges had been dismissed, judges ruled the hearing could proceed for now.

Next week they will hear testimony from Mr Setiawan and Mr Anwar. A final decision on holding a full appeal will then be made.

Head of Kontras, the human rights group formed by Mr Munir, Usman Hamid said it was essential there were further investigations and prosecutions. "This not an ordinary murder." "It's about the need to reform intelligence and it is about the future of democracy and human rights in Indonesia."

Indonesia's Supreme Court cited a lack of evidence in quashing Pollycarpus' conviction, but upheld a two-year sentence for using falsified documents to board the flight.

Pollycarpus has previously claimed he was being used as a scapegoat to protect powerful interests.


Back to August menu
July
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu