Subject: Munir Update: BIN Agent Retracts Testimony [+'98 Abductions Probe]
also: JP: Abduction probe to go ahead [The House of Representatives' special committee on the abduction of democracy activists in 1997-1998 decided Tuesday to continue summoning retired generals to clarify their roles in the cases.]
The Jakarta Post Wednesday, October 22, 2008
BIN Agent Retracts Testimony
Another person has revoked his testimony against former State Intelligent Agency (BIN) deputy chief Muchdi Purwopranjono, who is on trial for the murder of rights activist Munir Said Thalib.
A BIN agent identified only as Kawan, testified on Tuesday that his own testimony in a case file read by prosecutors was false.
"The testimony is different from what I had said to the police," Kawan told the South Jakarta District Court.
"Therefore, I retract my testimony and clarify that my statements in this court are the truth."
According to police Kawan testified last June that he had seen former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto visit the BIN office. Pollycarpus was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the murder of Munir.
Kawan denied he had made the statement.
"I had never seen him (Pollycarpus). I knew him from the media," he said.
He also denied receiving orders from former BIN director Budi Santoso to monitor, track and hunt activists from the Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).
"I never did it and I never testified that," Kawan said.
He added that he had trusted the detectives questioning him not to revise his testimony.
"I had just returned from Timor Leste and Bali when I testified to the police. I was very tired and the police asked me lots of questions," he added.
Kawan was the fourth witness to revoke his statement during Muchdi's trial.
Last month, Budi revoked his testimony through a letter he sent from Pakistan, where he is stationed. Prosecutors questioned the authenticity of the letter.
Agents Zondhy Anwar and Arifin Rahman also retracted their testimonies, denying they had seen Pollycarpus visit BIN.
Tuesday's trial session also saw the presentation of evidence from expert witness Joni Torino, a computer forensic investigator.
In his testimony, Joni said the police had asked him to copy the data from BIN's hard drives.
"The police wanted to find deleted documents from the hard drive," he said, adding that cloned data was 100 percent accurate.
With Joni's help, the police were able to find a recommendation letter from BIN to former Garuda president Indra Setiawan, asking him to assign Pollycarpus as a corporate security officer in the company. The assignment enabled Pollycarpus to fly on the same flight with Munir.
Munir was found dead on board a Garuda Indonesia flight to Amsterdam on Sept. 7, 2004. The cause of death was poisoning by arsenic, which was administered during a stopover in Singapore.
-- JP/Dian Kuswandini
The Jakarta Post Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Abduction probe to go ahead
Abdul Khalik and Dian Kuswandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The House of Representatives' special committee on the abduction of democracy activists in 1997-1998 decided Tuesday to continue summoning retired generals to clarify their roles in the cases.
At a plenary meeting of the committee, also attended by House Speaker Agung Laksono, all members pledged to follow standard procedure in carrying out the probe.
The committee dismissed accusations they were using these cases to attack several retired military generals contesting the 2009 presidential election.
Committee chairman Effendi Simbolon said all the abduction victims would be summoned to testify on Wednesday.
The committee, he added, would later call several retired generals, including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) chief of socio-political affairs at the time -- former ABRI commander Wiranto, former Army Special Forces (Kopassus) chief Prabowo Subianto, and former Jakarta military chiefs Sutiyoso and Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin.
"If the government decides the case is closed, then we will stop the probe. But it should be made in a formal and written policy," Effendi said.
"Why close the case when there are 13 activists still missing?"
Agung Laksono expressed his support for the committee, saying it was necessary for the House to seek clarification from all relevant parties and individuals, including retired generals.
The committee was established last year but has done absolutely nothing until Effendi's recent announcement to summon the retired generals.
Observers are questioning the motives behind the committee's sudden jump into action, pointing out that those being summoned were mostly presidential hopefuls from the military and that the probe would take place a matter of months before the presidential election next year.
To counter these claims, Yudhoyono held a limited Cabinet meeting twice on Monday.
After the meetings, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Djoko Santoso, Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji told reporters the President had nothing to do with the abduction cases.
They also said the government had brought these cases to justice by punishing all military officers responsible for the cases, including Prabowo, a presidential hopeful.
"The President has expressed concern over unhealthy statements that are full of false allegations, character assassination and barbaric politics," Sudi said.
University of Paramadina political expert Bima Arya Sugiarto said the revival of the abduction probe could be seen as politically motivated ahead of the election.
Human rights activist Poengky Indarti, however, expressed support for the committee to press ahead with summoning all people involved in the cases.
"Only 11 low-ranking officers were punished, yet we know they just acted on orders from their (military) commanders," she said.