Subject: Suspect in Munir murder to go on trial next week

The Jakarta Post Saturday, July 30, 2005

Suspect in Munir murder to go on trial next week

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a pilot with Garuda Indonesia, is expected to be in the dock next week when the first court hearing of the murder case of top human rights campaigner Munir begins.

Prosecutors submitted the case against Pollycarpus to the Central Jakarta Court on Friday, charging him with being an accessory to the premeditated murder. He could face the maximum penalty of death if proven guilty.

He has also been charged with falsifying documents.

"The first hearing will be held next week," said court president I Made Karna on Friday.

A panel of five judges has been appointed to hear the high-profile case. A case is normally heard by a panel of three judges.

Judge Cicut Sutiyarso will head the panel of judges Sugito, Liliek Mulyadi, Agus Subroto and Ridwan Mansyur.

"We will present 35 witnesses, including Munir's wife Suciwati," said Edi Saputra, a prosecutor with the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office.

Munir, a co-founder of human rights watchdogs Kontras and Imparsial who had condemned the human rights abuses allegedly committed by the military, died onboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Sept. 7, 2004. An autopsy performed by Dutch authorities found a lethal amount of arsenic in his body, leading to the conclusion that he had been murdered by poisoning.

The police declared Pollycarpus a suspect in March. Pollycarpus, who was onboard the flight in his capacity as an aviation security officer, offered his business class seat in exchange for Munir's economy one, during the first leg of the flight from Jakarta to Singapore. The autopsy did not rule out the possibility that Munir was poisoned during the one-hour flight from Jakarta to Singapore.

The police have come under criticism for the slow progress of the investigation. Aside from Pollycarpus, two other suspects have been named -- Oedi Irianto and Yeti Susmiyarti -- Garuda flight attendants who served the in-flight meals.

A government-sanctioned fact finding team, assigned to help the police in the investigation, said upon the expiry of its term in a report to the President that the murder of Munir was a conspiracy, allegedly involving certain former and active officials of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

The team also said that Pollycarpus, believed to be a BIN agent, had been in phone contact with BIN officials before and after Munir's death.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) urged on Friday President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to set up a new independent commission to help speed up the investigation of the Munir case.

The AFAD said it had also sent a letter to the United Nations to put pressure on the government to resolve the case quickly, and vowed to stage demonstrations in front of a number of foreign embassies in Jakarta if the government failed to resolve the case by Sept. 7 of this year, Antara quoted the non-governmental organization as saying.

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