|Subject: BIN Involved in Munir Murder:
Team; Names of Suspects Not Released [+GLW]
also: GLW/Jakarta: Spy Agency Implicated in Activist's Murder
The Jakarta Post Thursday, June 23, 2005
BIN Involved in Killing Munir: Team
Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
After having strong suspicions of the role of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the poisoning of rights activist Munir, a government-sanctioned fact finding team concluded earlier this week that the agency was involved, according to its report to the President.
"BIN is believed to have been involved in a conspiracy to murder Munir," the team's deputy chairman Asmara Nababan stated on Wednesday on the sidelines of a closed-door meeting to prepare the report.
The report, however, did not definitively state that BIN committed an institutional crime, nor did it state how deeply BIN individuals were involved. In addition they did not find a clear motive behind the murder, mostly because of the agency's reluctance to give the team complete access to certain relevant documents and its arms warehouse.
"We've kept the names of the suspects in our pocket, but we can't determine how far they contributed to the murder," Asmara said.
In its report set for submission to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday, there is the suggestion for the President to order the police to launch a full investigation of some BIN officials, who were in charge when Munir died last September.
The team, whose mandate expires on Thursday, was formed by the President to help the police investigate the case.
A source said the role of each BIN official in the murder was described in the nearly 100-page report, including who played which roles, such as the mastermind and the final executioner.
Another team member, Munarman, hinted that the team would recommend police investigate former BIN chief A.M. Hendropriyono, who previously refused to respond to the team's three summonses.
"I can assure (you) that one of them is a person who strongly reacted to our findings and recently concluded a 'political road show' to approach the legislators," said Munarman, who also heads the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).
Hendropriyono met with a group of House legislators -- who are currently discussing the Munir case as well -- for a second time on Tuesday. The fact finding team declined an invitation to the meeting. The meeting was intended to give the team members a chance to seek Hendropriyono's clarification, which had eluded them.
Hendropriyono has filed a report with the police against two of the team members for defamation.
In its report, the team also criticizes the police for its poor performance in handling the case, prompting the team to ask the President to establish a supervisory team to ensure the police seriously deal with the case.
"We have learned that the police failed to raise key questions during the questioning of witnesses, including Muchdi," Asmara said, referring to former deputy BIN chief Muchdi PR.
Green Left Weekly June 22, 2005.
Spy Agency Implicated in Activist's Murder
By James Balowski, Jakarta
Although no-one has been charged with last year's murder of Indonesia's foremost human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib, evidence is mounting that the prime suspect in the case, Garuda Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was a member of or working with the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).
Lack of cooperation by BIN and hysterical statements by its former director Ahmad Hendropriyono belittling the investigation, plus his refusal to be questioned, have only strengthened suspicions that BIN masterminded the murder.
Thirty-eight-year-old Munir died aboard a Garuda flight shortly before it landed in Amsterdam on September 7. His death was originally blamed on a heart attack but the autopsy found he died as a result of arsenic poisoning.
Priyanto gave up his business-class seat to Munir on the Jakarta-Singapore leg of the flight. Why Priyanto who was off duty at the time and was on the flight has not been explained and his travel authorisation issued by Garuda's vice-president of corporate security, Ramelgia Anwar, was later found to have been signed and typed on September 17, more than a week after the incident.
Two flight attendants who prepared and served Munir's meal are also suspects.
Munir rose to prominence in 1998, when he was involved in investigating the abduction and torture of pro-democracy activists by the notorious elite special forces, Kopassus.
Kopassus, which has enforced terror in East Timor and Aceh, has also been linked with Islamist terrorist groups such as Laskar Jihad and Jemaah Islamiah — the latter group has been blamed for the 2002 Bali bombing and the September 9 bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
Munir had criticised BIN over its anti-democratic terrorism bill and colleagues say that at the time of his death he was investigating a corruption case involving Garuda.
Although Priyanto claims he was recruited by BIN in 2002, the first concrete evidence linking him with BIN was revealed on May 18 when the Fact Finding Team (TPF) established by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and tasked with assisting the police investigation revealed that Priyanto had been in phone contact with BIN.
TPF deputy head Asmara Nababan said Priyanto had called a BIN official via his mobile phone several times after Munir's death. "We reported to the president that Polly [Priyanto] had direct contact with someone in BIN", Nababan said. "It means there is a connection [between BIN and Priyanto], which BIN had previously denied. But, we must be cautious as we don't want to implicate BIN as an institution."
Nababan declined to identify the official but according to the Jakarta Post, sources close to the TPF have said they have phone company documents proving calls were made by Priyanto to BIN's "deputy five" between September and October.
Deputy five at that time was Major General Muchdi Purwopranjono, a former Kopassus commander who was sacked following Munir's investigation into the 1998 abductions. He was replaced as the deputy director of BIN in August and although police interviewed him on May 18 they have refused to disclose what they learned.
Priyanto also received calls from Purwopranjono's office over the September-October period. "At least five calls were made from that number to Pollycarpus' mobile phone", Nababan told reporters.
Yudhoyono has formally asked BIN to cooperate but its current director, Syamsir Siregar (who replaced Hendropriyono in October), has so far avoided questioning.
The May 28 Jakarta Post reported that BIN is refusing to provide the TPF with documents on former BIN agents allegedly implicated in the killing. "We need BIN's documents that show whether Pollycarpus was recruited by BIN in 2002 as he has repeatedly claimed. We also need to clarify whether his recruitment was in line with BIN's anti-terrorism policy", said TPF member Rachland Nashidik.
Former BIN secretary general Djazuli has testified to the TPF that Hendropriyono endorsed Priyanto's recruitment. Priyanto also named two other former high-ranking members of BIN who were suspected of knowing about Munir's murder — former BIN deputy chief overseeing the anti-terrorism desk, retired Major General Muchdi and former BIN agent Colonel Bambang Irawan.
The May 27 Jakarta Post reported that a source has said Bambang was the passenger who was seated in the same flight's business class and was believed to "have given a glass of drink mixed with poison to Munir".
"Questioning of the three men concerned and checking all related BIN documents are necessary to clarify all of Pollycarpus' statements", Nashidik said. "We have prepared summonses for the three and are expecting to question them by mid-June. But I'm worried that they are just trying to buy time", he added, pointing out that the TPF will end its six-month term on June 23.
One of the team's highest priorities is to question Hendropriyono. He was one of the Suharto dictatorship's most prominent thugs and was the Jakarta military commander in 1996 when the headquarters of Megawati Sukarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party was attacked by military-backed thugs. The attack resulted in the death of at least 50 people and sparked three days of mass rioting.
Ironically, Hendropriyono is now a close aide to Megawati and a member of her party.
Questioning Hendropriyono has not proved easy. For some time his whereabouts were unclear. Then, on May 30, Hendropriyono suddenly lodged a complaint with the police against the TPF saying it had tarnished his reputation by repeatedly connecting him with Munir's death.
Hendropriyono said the TPF had told the media he was in the US and was difficult to track down for questioning. He said he had in fact been in Indonesia since April.
He also lodged a complaint with the Indonesian parliament and is asking it to form a new team that can "work more effectively".
Hendropriyono has also tried to belittle the case by asking what was so special about Munir's death. At a May 30 press conference, Hendropriyono's lawyer, Sjamsu Djalal, said: "And I'm sorry to say this, but who's this Munir anyway that a presidential regulation had to be issued? A lot of people die, but no regulations are ever made [for them]."
When asked if he was willing to appear before the TPF, Hendropriyono remained elusive, saying he had yet to receive a summons. "Where's the summons letter? Send it to me. I don't answer hypothetical questions, such as [would I attend] if I received a summons."
At a press conference the following day, Nashidik told reporters that "the erroneous issue of [his] place of residency, in the United States, actually could have been resolved directly by explaining it to the chairperson of the TPF. [He] could have used the phone [and told us] that he is in Jakarta, not by measures which demonstrate a kind of excessive fear."
Following an interview with Hendropriyono aired on Metro TV on May 31 in which he accused the TPF of "lacking professionalism", human rights activists called on police to detain him for "attempts to avoid investigation".
At a press conference on June 1, Edwin Partogi from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence questioned Hendropriyono's motives saying that while he claims to respect the legal process he is unwilling to give any information to the TPF.
"We certainly suspect Hendropriyono's sensationalist posture and statements are no more than an effort to provoke the TPF to become caught up in unnecessary matters. It also aims to distract the tremendous amount of public attention [away from] the Munir case", Partogi said.
"The police have sufficient reason to detain Hendropriyono because he has tried to block the investigation", Johnson Panjaitan of the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association said.
Panjaitan told journalists that Hendropriyono is trying to intimidate the TPF, citing previous cases where the former BIN boss has sued human rights lawyers to prevent them from proceeding with cases. Panjaitan warned that Hendropriyono still has a lot of power and asked police to prioritise his questioning.
On June 6, Hendropriyono again failed to turn up for a meeting with the TPF, citing unspecified business out of town. Djazuli and Suparto were also due to appear for questioning but neither turned up.
TPF chairperson Police Brigadier General Marsudhi Hanafi announced on June 14 that the team had found documents detailing four plots to kill Munir, involving engineering a car accident and poisoning his food at his office. The fourth plot was to poison him aboard an aircraft. "It was this [plot] which then succeeded", Hanafi told journalists.
Although Hanafi declined to say where the documents were found, he said the TPF now knows where the arsenic was purchased. He said the findings strengthen the suspicion that there was a conspiracy to murder Munir.