|Subject: Munir Reports: Age: Court Tense,
Conflicting Tales About The Murder; Spy Agency Named; Ex-Garuda Executive
- The Age: Court tense for Jakarta poison case
- Indonesian spy agency named in activist murder case
- Ex-Garuda exec implicates intelligence agency in activist murder
- Witness denies key testimony in retrial of Indonesian activist's poisoning death
The Age Thursday, August 23, 2007
Court tense for Jakarta poison case
Mark Forbes, Jakarta
Conflicting tales on activist murder
UNPRECEDENTED security and unexpected drama pervaded the reopened hearing into the murder of Indonesia's leading human rights activist.
Heavily armed police in bulletproof vests ringed Jakarta Central Court yesterday in an "all-out" operation to protect witnesses implicating the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the 2004 arsenic poisoning of Thalib Munir on a flight to Amsterdam.
There was outcry during the hearing when pop singer Ongen recanted a statement to police that he saw alleged BIN agent Pollycarpus Priyanto bring a drink to Mr Munir during a stopover at Singapore airport.
Ongen denied seeing Mr Pollycarpus with Mr Munir at an airport coffee shop, saying police pressured him to lie. He said he had never met Mr Pollycarpus.
Another passenger on the flight, student Asrini Utami Putri, then gave evidence that she saw Ongen, Mr Pollycarpus and Mr Munir sitting together at the coffee shop.
The former head of national airline Garuda, Indra Setiawan, revealed Mr Pollycarpus, a Garuda pilot, was reassigned to corporate security shortly before the murder on the instructions of BIN's deputy chairman. The change enabled him to board Mr Munir's flight.
Mr Setiawan told the hearing that Mr Pollycarpus had said not to fear investigation as the chief justice of the Supreme Court and other senior legal officials were controlled by BIN.
A taped phone conversation between the pair was played to the court. Mr Setiawan called Mr Pollycarpus in May after police charged him with assisting the murder.
"If it is necessary it (the case) will be stopped up there (the Supreme Court)," Mr Pollycarpus said. "This is just a political game so that SBY (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) will not be disturbed."
BIN agent Raden Mohammad Anwar, who had admitted to police he was assigned to assist in Mr Munir's murder, appeared nervous and evasive, giving contradictory evidence.
At first he denied being asked to help kill Mr Munir, then confirmed he had received an SMS from a superior about the murder.
Mr Anwar said he was assigned by BIN to monitor human rights groups and asked to follow Mr Munir's movements.
A fresh police investigation into the controversial case was ordered by Dr Yudhoyono after the Supreme Court overturned an initial murder conviction of Mr Pollycarpus last year.
The investigation found BIN explored various ways to kill Mr Munir, including black magic, before the October 2004 presidential election. Scientific tests established he was poisoned with arsenic during the stopover and died on the way to Amsterdam.
Mr Munir 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.
Bringing his killers to justice is seen as a test of Dr Yudhoyono's attempts to reform military and intelligence agencies.
Indonesian spy agency named in activist murder case
JAKARTA, Aug 22 (Reuters) - A suspect in the murder of an Indonesian human rights activist on a flight in 2004 was assigned as a security officer on the plane at the request of the state spy agency, a former airline chief told a court on Wednesday.
Leading rights campaigner Munir Thalib, known for his critical views on the military, was poisoned while on his way to the Netherlands for postgraduate studies on the Garuda airline flight.
Pollycarpus Priyanto, an off-duty pilot for the national carrier who was acting as a flight security officer at the time, has been charged with the murder of the activist.
Indra Setiawan, former president of Garuda, told the court that before Munir's death he had received a letter from the spy agency asking him to allow Priyanto to be a flight security officer.
"It told Garuda, being a vital and strategic organisation, to step up security measures by assigning Priyanto as a security officer," said Setiawan, who has been named a suspect along another airline official.
He was speaking at the second hearing of a case review sought by prosecutors after the Supreme Court in October overturned a guilty verdict for Priyanto, saying there was not enough evidence and no witness.
Prosecutors appealed the decision, saying that new evidence and witnesses proved that Priyanto poisoned Munir during transit at Singapore's Changi airport.
Setiawan told the court on Wednesday that Priyanto's main task was to report "relevant corporate details" to the spy agency.
However, Setiawan said he lost the letter, which was signed by the deputy chief of the agency. Four other witnesses testified at the hearing.
Priyanto, who has denied the accusations, said he had not come in contact with Munir during transit at Changi.
The Supreme Court's acquittal of Priyanto 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.
Washington and top U.N. human rights officials have urged Jakarta not to let the case slide.
Munir was an outspoken critic of the military and its methods in quashing dissent and separatists in hotspots such as Aceh and Papua provinces.
Prosecutors also played on Wednesday a taped telephone conversation in which Priyanto told Setiawan that the revived case against him was stage-managed.
"They will have you come up with new evidence... to stop activists from pressuring the President on this matter," Priyanto said in the conversation.
Priyanto also told Setiawan during the conversation that the attorney general and the supreme court's chief justice were "our men".
He admitted to the court that the voice on the tape was his but he added that his words were only intended "to comfort Setiawan".
The hearing was adjourned until next week.
Ex-Garuda exec implicates intelligence agency in activist murder
JAKARTA, Aug 22 (AFP) -- A former senior executive of Indonesia's flagship airline on Wednesday implicated the powerful state intelligence agency in the 2004 murder of the country's most prominent rights activist.
Munir Said Thalib was poisoned on a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam in September 2004. He had made many enemies during and after the rule of dictator Suharto, which ended in 1998.
An off-duty pilot with Garuda Indonesia, Pollycarpus Priyanto, was sentenced to 14 years for slipping arsenic into Munir's food or drink during the fateful flight, but his conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court last year.
Former Garuda director Indra Setiawan, who is in custody and expected to be charged as an accessory to murder, told a Jakarta court on Wednesday that the intelligence agency asked him to assign Priyanto to Munir's flight.
"It is a usual thing. We often get letters from (government) institutions such as the transport ministry, the finance ministry, requesting that a Garuda pilot be included in a team," he told the court.
Setiawan said the letter, marked "secret", was sent in April or May 2004. He added that Priyanto's position as a corporate security officer had made the demand a fair one.
The actual letter from the intelligence agency (BIN) was taken from Setiawan's car in December 2004, but prosecutors seeking a review of Priyanto's case say his testimony is enough to prove the pilot's link to BIN.
Priyanto and BIN bosses have shrugged off previous allegations of a link, including records that the pilot's phone had made some 41 calls to a BIN officer around the time of Munir's death.
The court heard a recording of what prosecutors said was a telephone conversation between Priyanto and Setiawan, in which a man that sounded like Priyanto said many officials were "on our side."
"Ninety percent of government officials are on our side, and that is why they are silent," said the man believed by prosecutors to be Priyanto.
"Mr. Indra, you should not be worried ... This has to be done so that SBY doesn't get prodded by non-governmental organisations," he said, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by his initials.
During Wednesday's hearing, a junior state intelligence agent, Raden Mohammad Patma Anwar, said he was not ordered by a superior to kill Munir, recanting his earlier testimony.
Anwar however told the court that he was assigned to monitor Munir's activities, passing as a journalist to gain access to the activist's meetings and whereabouts.
Priyanto's lawyers have disputed the legality of the bid by prosecutors to reopen his case.
Witness denies key testimony in retrial of Indonesian activist's poisoning death
JAKARTA, Aug 22 (AP) -- A key witness in the retrial of the poisoning death of a prominent Indonesian human rights activist retracted Wednesday an earlier testimony saying he saw the prime suspect serve the victim a drink at a cafe in Singapore's airport.
Ongen Latuihamalo, a passenger on the Sept. 9, 2004 Garuda International flight to Amsterdam on which Munir Thalib died of arsenic poisoning, told a judicial review he was forced by police to implicate Pollycarpus Priyanto, a retired pilot for the national carrier.
Pollycarpus, 46, was acquitted by the Supreme Court last year after having been sentenced to 14 years in prison by a lower tribunal on charges of killing Munir.
The highest court cited lack of evidence in the murder charge, but upheld a two-year sentence for using falsified documents to get aboard the plane.
Pollycarpus, who was providing security on the plane at the time, has long maintained innocence in Munir's death.
Prosecutors earlier this week urged the courts to reopen the case, saying they had new evidence to prove Pollycarpus' alleged guilt.
They said witnesses would show that Pollycarpus had ties to Indonesia's intelligence agency and that Munir was poisoned at Singapore's Changi Airport while transiting to the Netherlands not on the first leg of the journey as earlier claimed.
A witness would testify that he saw Pollycarpus serve Munir a drink at a cafe in the terminal, they said.
However, when Ongen stepped up to the witness stand Wednesday, he denied having seen the two together, saying he made the earlier statement under duress from police.
"I did not see that guy," Ongen told the Central Jakarta District Court. "I know Munir, but he (Pollycarpus) was not the guy I saw then with Munir," Ongen said.
However, another passenger, Asrini Utami Putri, told the court she saw Pollycarpus, Munir and a man she believes was Ongen, sitting together in the cafe.
Indra Setiawan, a former executive director of Garuda, testified that he had received a letter from the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, before the fatal flight, asking him to assign Pollycarpus to the aviation security unit.
Setiawan said he received the letter in person from Pollycarpus and that they had visited BIN's office together to meet with the official who signed the letter.
Setiawan, and a Garuda flight operations officer Rohainil Aini, were arrested in April in connection with the poisoning.
The court also heard a recorded telephone conversation allegedly between Pollycarpus and Setiawan in May in which Pollycarpus assures the Garuda executive that they have nothing to fear.
"Ninety percent of state officials including Attorney General Hendarman Supandji are on our side," Pollycarpus is heard saying.
"Officials at the Supreme Court its chairman Bagir Manan and his deputy are our men," he says.
Pollycarpus later confirmed to reporters that it was his voice on the tape.
Munir rose to prominence toward the end of former President Suharto's 32-year dictatorship, for exposing Indonesian military abuses in East Timor's bloody struggle for independence, and to separatist movements in Papua and Aceh provinces.
Suharto was ousted amid massive street protests in 1998
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