Subject: Munir Update: Muchdi Lodges Final Plea
also Prosecutors Defend 15-Year Sentence For Muchdi
The Jakarta Post
December 20, 2008
Muchdi Lodges Final Plea Against Charges
Dian Kuswandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Former top spy Muchdi Purwopranjono made a last-ditch effort Friday to defend himself against charges of planning the murder of noted human rights activist Munir Said Thalib in 2004.
The South Jakarta District Court is scheduled to hand down its verdict on the former State Intelligent Agency (BIN) deputy chief on Dec. 31.
In the final defense statement, Muchdi insisted he had no involvement in the murder of Munir and asked the panel of judges to reject the prosecutors' demand he be sentenced to jail for 15 years.
"This trial has revealed there is not a shred of evidence directly linking me to the murder," Muchdi told the packed courtroom.
He described the charges against him as "devilish", claiming they were politically motivated, particularly to satisfy the international community.
Muchdi demanded the judges declare him not guilty and restore his image and reputation.
In its indictment, the prosecution said Muchdi had masterminded the high-profile murder and had recruited former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto as a nonorganic BIN agent to carry out the assassination.
Munir was found dead on Sept. 7, 2004, aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore. An autopsy conducted in the Netherlands revealed an inordinate amount of arsenic in his body.
Earlier this year, Pollycarpus was sentenced to 20 years in jail for his role in the murder.
Muchdi denied he knew Pollycarpus despite police evidence in the form of phone call data records, which confirmed 41 calls were placed between his and Pollycarpus' phone numbers.
"Note that it was call data records, not voice records. It only recorded the numbers and locations where the conversations took place," Muchdi's lawyer Wirawan Adnan told the court.
There was no proof that the defendant actually spoke to Pollycarpus as his cellular phone might have been used by another party, he added.
Muchdi's defense team also said there was no evidence that the defendant had given Pollycarpus Rp 13 million to carry out the murder.
"Budi Santoso, the only witness who could prove the payment and the relationship between the defendant and Pollycarpus, failed to appear in court," Wirawan said.
Budi, a former BIN director working under Muchdi, had testified to the police in October 2007 and May 2008 that Pollycarpus and BIN agent Kawan confessed to him they had received an order from the defendant to kill Munir.
Budi also said he had often seen Pollycarpus at the BIN headquarters, particularly inside Muchdi's office.
The defense lawyers asked judges to dismiss all charges against their client because of the lack of evidence and witnesses.
"Moreover, the prosecutors constructed the defendant's motive to murder Munir based only on a statement by Munir's widow Suciwati," Wirawan said.
The prosecutors have said Muchdi sought revenge against Munir after the latter had revealed the involvement of several Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers in the abduction of 13 democracy activists critical of the government between 1997 and 1998.
Following the incident, Muchdi, who was Kopassus chief at that time, was dismissed from the prestigious post only 52 days after his inauguration, they added.
The Jakarta Globe Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Prosecutors Defend 15-Year Sentence For Muchdi
Prosecutors insisted on Tuesday that former top intelligence official Muchdi Purwoprandjono deserved 15 years in prison for ordering the murder of prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.
The sentence request is lighter than the 20-year jail sentence given to Pollycarpus Priyanto who was convicted in January of carrying out the killing four years ago.
Muchdi had orchestrated the murder to get even with Munir, whose fierce criticism had cost the retired army general the top job at the Army's Special Force, or Kopassus, in 1998, prosecutors told a hearing at the South Jakarta District Court. Munir and nongovernmental human rights group Kontras, which Munir founded, claimed that a secret Kopassus team abducted 13 rights activists in 1997-98.
Their investigation had prompted the military's ethics board to launch an internal investigation, which ended with Muchdi's dismissal from the elite unit.
"According to the facts, the abductions occurred during Muchdi's tenure [in Kopassus], which lasted for just 59 days," said prosecutor Cirus Sinaga, reading a statement from the prosecution team. Muchdi was removed from Kopassus for "negligence toward his men's activities," said the prosecutor.
His remarks were in response to Muchdi's earlier defense plea which attacked prosecutors for inventing the "revenge-motive story" without sufficient evidence.
Lawyers for Muchdi have argued that there had not been any activist kidnappings after Muchdi took the helm at Kopassus on March 28, 1998.
Cirus said prosecutors had secured enough evidence to link Muchdi with Pollycarpus, a former Garuda Indonesia pilot that the Supreme Court found guilty of poisoning Munir during a stopover in Singapore on an Amsterdam-bound flight. On the day of the murder, Sept. 7, 2004, Pollycarpus had been assigned to serve as an aviation security officer in the Garuda plane based on a recommendation by the State Intelligence Agency, where Muchdi was then a deputy chief.
The prosecution team said it had collected key evidence, including the recommendation letter and telephone records issued by operators indicating intense contacts between Muchdi and the convicted murderer in the days before and after Munir's death.
The Supreme Court's verdict against Pollycarpus also served as strong evidence, they said.
"We, the prosecutors, maintain our demand that the defendant be pronounced guilty of committing premeditated murder and be sentenced to 15 years in jail," the statement read.
The prosecution's demand has drawn fierce criticism from rights activists and legal experts who argued that the mastermind should take greater responsibility than the accomplice.
Another prosecutor, Maju Ambarita, said earlier that Pollycarpus got a jail term longer than the one sought for Muchdi because the former pilot was also found guilty of document forgery in addition.