Subject: AP & JP: Indonesian Intel Agent Faces Murder Charge in Munir Case

also: AP: Indonesian intelligence agent faces murder charge

The Jakarta Post

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ex-top spy stands trial for murder

Dian Kuswandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The long road to finding the truth behind the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib four years ago will take a new twist with the trial of former top spy Maj. Gen. (ret) Muchdi Purwopranjono.

Muchdi, a former deputy chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN),will stand trial beginning Thursday at the South Jakarta District Court on accusations of premeditating the assassination of Munir. The crime carries a maximum penalty of death under the Criminal Code.

"The court will hear prosecutors' indictment on Thursday," Attorney General's Office spokesman Bonaventura Daulat Nainggolan said Wednesday. The AGO has assigned eight prosecutors to handle the case.

Although the trial of Muchdi, also a deputy chairman of the Gerindra Party, has grabbed the public's attention, Nainggolan said it was not necessary to tighten security during the court hearing.

The AGO recently rejected Muchdi's request for a city arrest.

Nainggolan said the AGO would request the maximum penalty for Muchdi, as evidence of a letter brought by the police was solid enough to prove the involvement of the former Army Special Forces (Kopassus) chief.

The letter, which had been reported missing, was first mentioned in the trial of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a former Garuda pilot who was sentenced to 20 years for his part in the murder.

Former Garuda president director Indra Setiawan, a witness in the Pollycarpus trial, testified he had received a classified letter from the BIN asking that Pollycarpus be assigned as a security crew member for Munir's flight to Amsterdam.

Deputy Attorney General for General Crimes Abdul Hakim Ritonga had previously said among the evidence for Muchdi's role in the murder were written records of letters sent and received by the suspect, his cash flow and three letters belonging to the BIN.

Ritonga said the prosecutors would present 13 witnesses, including Indra, Pollycarpus and former BIN deputy chief M. As'ad. The BINchief at the time of the murder, A.M. Hendropiyono, is not on the list of witnesses.

Muchdi's lawyer Achmad Cholid said his client was looking forward to
the trial to prove his innocence.

"My client isn't afraid of anything but a biased and unfair trial due to pressures from many parties, including from the international community," Cholid said Wednesday.

"We're afraid the court won't be independent. We hope judges will issue a verdict based on facts, not pressures."

Rights activist Asmara Nababan, who joined a government-sanctioned fact-finding team on Munir's murder, said Munir's widow Suciwati would attend the court hearing along with other rights activists.

"Our presence is aimed at demonstrating our close attention to the legal process of this case," Asmara said. He said activists would arrive at the court early in the morning to make sure they would not run out of seats.

When Army generals accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor in 1999 stood trial, soldiers packed the courtroom in a show of solidarity with their superiors.


The Associated Press Thursday, August 21, 2008

Indonesian intelligence agent faces murder charge


A former top Indonesian state intelligence official went on trial Thursday for allegedly ordering the murder of the country's most prominent human rights activist four years ago.

Retired army Gen. Muchdi Purwoprandjono, 60, was arrested in June on charges of involvement in the poisoning of Munir Thalib, who died of an arsenic overdose in September 2004 on a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam aboard the state airline, Garuda.

Purwoprandjono could face the death sentence if found guilty of ordering the murder.

His trial at the South Jakarta District Court reflects a giant leap in the investigation of Thalib's killing, long undermined by high-level corruption. Prosecutors were to detail the charges against him during Thursday's court proceedings.

Observers see the proceedings as an important gauge of progress in human rights and judicial reform in Indonesia since the end of the 32-year Suharto dictatorship a decade ago.

Purwoprandjono is the first official at the State Intelligence Agency to be linked to a plot to have Thalib killed and could implicate other authorities.

Thalib gained fame and made many powerful enemies for exposing abuses by the Indonesian army in East Timor and Papua during Suharto's U.S-backed rule.

In January, the Supreme Court sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a 46-year-old pilot, to 20 years in prison for carrying out the murder. Indra Setiawan, a former airline official, received one-year sentence for accessory.

An independent fact-finding team established by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono revealed phone records of dozens of calls between Priyanto and a phone registered to Purwoprandjono before the murder.

Purwoprandjono testified at Priyanto's trial that he shared the phone with family and staff. (amr)      

Joyo Indonesia News Service

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