|Subject: 2 Tempo Munir Reports: Opinion:
Back to Zero [+Pollycarpus 'Walks']
2 Tempo Magazine Reports:
- Opinion: Back to Zero
- Dark Clouds Over the Munir Case
Tempo Magazine No. 06/VII Oct 10-16, 2006
Back to Zero
Pollycarpus will soon be released. Not a single person in this republic can be certain that the real killer will be caught.
"HOW can it be proven if nobody tries to prove it?"
Despair, pain, bitterness. This is the impression one gets from comments made by Suciwati, widow of Munir, the poisoned human rights activist, after the Supreme Court sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, the alleged killer, to a mere two-year imprisonment. On September 7, 2004, Munir died on a Garuda airplane taking him from Singapore to the Netherlands.
Suci's reaction is not excessive. She has been fighting for two years to uncover the forces behind the cruel murder. She feels pain when her two children, 8-year-old Alif and 4-year-old Dica, ask for their father: "I miss Dad." She managed to push the President into setting up a fact-finding team to investigate her husband's death. She continuously seeks support from overseas.
The trials eased the pain somewhat. The two lower courts found Pollycarpus, a Garuda pilot, guilty and sentenced him to 14 years. But the Supreme Court reduced the sentence, making Pollycarpus eligible for release in six months' time. Merely by tinkering with the charge sheet, without asking for a special session, the judges were convinced that Pollycarpus had not been proved guilty of the murder. Only Supreme Court judge Artidjo Alkostar disagreed with the lighter sentence and offered a dissenting opinion.
The other judges decided that Pollycarpus was only guilty of falsifying his assignment papers. This in itself is strange. Pollycarpus had clearly chosen that flight because Munir was on it. The proof of this is that he falsified the work order, something he would not have needed to do had he been officially tasked by Garuda to fly to Singapore. He was also known to have moved Munir from the economy class seat to one in business class. He wandered to and fro throughout the flight. But the efforts to find out how the arsenic got into Munir's body were not thorough and the charges were far from strong.
The problem is not only Pollycarpus and the Supreme Court verdict. Since the beginning of the case there was the impression that it has been dealt with half-heartedly, and hastily. The forces of law and order seem to have been after only one suspect, namely Pollycarpus.
However, had the investigation been more thorough, there are a number of people who might have been named suspects. As a result of this, once Pollycarpus is released, there will be no other suspects. And Pollycarpus cannot be bothered again because of the principle of ne bis in idem-no one can be tried twice for the same crime.
The impression that the case has been handled "half-heartedly" is bound to stick if prosecutors fail to follow up on a key fact that there were 41 phone calls between Pollycarpus and a cellular phone owned by Muchdi Purwoprandjono, the former fifth deputy at the State Intelligence Agency. If the owner of the phone number says that anybody could have used his cell-phone, proof is needed as to who had the nerve to use the phone without the general's knowledge. It is not possible that an answerphone had 41 conversations with Pollycarpus.
Efforts to find Munir's killer have gone back to zero. The attorney general has already announced that he is not going to ask for a review of the Supreme Court verdict.
So, if President Yudhoyono says he wants to revitalize the Munir fact-finding team, and the National Police Chief promises to reopen the Munir case, we hope these are not just empty words to show that the government is doing something. Whatever the team to be formed, it will find difficulty in getting to the bottom of this murder mystery. It will have to look for new suspects and new evidence in a case stretching back two years. But if there is a will, there will be a way.
If Munir's killer can be caught, President Yudhoyono will deserve to win the Nobel prize. On the Nobel stage, he could invite Munir's two children to receive the prize that will become a milestone in this new era of law and order.
Tempo Magazine No. 06/VII Oct 10-16, 2006
Dark Clouds Over the Munir Case
The National Police Chief sets up a new Munir case investigating team after Pollycarpus 'walks.'
THE murder case of human rights activist Munir ended up obscure. Everything returns to zero. Months were spent on a probe into the ruthless murder of the 39-year-old human rights advocate by poisoning, but now the case is further engulfed in mystery. An appeal decision of the Supreme Court on Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a Garuda pilot, was the cause. Polly was sentenced to 14 years in prison by a district court, which was sustained by the high court. Polly was found guilty of involvement in the premeditated murder of Munir on September 7, 2004, aboard a Garuda airliner flying the Jakarta-Singapore-Amsterdam route.
On Tuesday last week, the judicial appeal panel chaired by Iskandar Kamil declared that Polly was not the perpetrator of Munir's murder. He was only guilty of falsifying a letter of travel assignment. This wrongdoing, according to the panel, was far less severe than killing a man. Therefore, the punishment for Polly was slashed from 14 years to only two years in jail.
But it was not a unanimous decision. Justice Artidjo Alkostar, one of the three members of the panel, disagreed with his two colleagues, Iskandar and Atja Sondjaja. Artidjo applied the a posteriori principle-analyzing known effects to deduce possible causes. Based on the series of facts in the last journey of Munir, Artidjo was convinced that Polly had been involved. "There was a succession of peculiar acts by the former Garuda pilot before the death of Munir," he told Tempo (see interview with Artidjo).
Still, Artidjo lost his vote. Within six months, Polly will be free. Polly's attorney, M. Assegaf, even planned to request that the confinement of his client, now occupying detention room C-3 at the National Police HQ, should be suspended. "It's because he has served three quarters of his term," said Assegaf.
The appeal decision constitutes a ticket for Pollycarpus to lead a life of full freedom. At least in the case of Munir he must never be brought to trial again. "On the basis of the criminal code principle of ne bis in idem, Polly cannot be prosecuted for the second time in the same case," said Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, an expert on criminal law from the University of Indonesia.
In the Criminal Code, the principle of ne bis in idem is stipulated in Article 76. "So, for Polly, the case is now virtually over," added Harkristuti. According to her, even the presence of novum or new evidence will not take him to court. "Such evidence cannot eliminate ne bis in idem," she pointed out.
Suciwati, Munir's wife, was obviously disappointed. "This further shows the confusion of our law, which is not on the side of the weak," she said. The mother of two is working with a non-governmental organization. Suci was sure that Polly was only a pawn in her husband's murder. Consequently, though the court of the first level and the high court punished Polly, Suci kept demanding that the mastermind of her spouse's killer should be captured.
With this appeal decision, the government attempt to revitalize the Munir case investigating team has triggered the pessimism of many circles. While the fact-finding team of the Munir case failed to do much until its dissolution, the new team is expected to have the same fate. Pro-human rights groups believe that Munir's killing involved powerful men. "The commitment and serious attitude of the President will be useful to uncover this case," said Asmara Nababan, deputy head of the fact-finding team.
According to Asmara, his team once requested the President to audit investigators from the police for their less than optimal performance. Asmara cited Polly's phone contact with a high-ranking State Intelligence Agency (BIN) official as an example. "The phone number of the one in touch with Pollycarpus was never seriously traced," he noted. Asmara also regretted the President's lack of prompt response to the team's recommendations. One of them concerned the team's failure to reach maximum capacity due to BIN's limitation. "If the President approved this recommendation, the head of BIN should have been replaced," he added.
National Police Chief, Gen. Sutanto, apparently wanted to avoid any public impression of low working morale among his personnel. On Friday, Sutanto announced the dissolution of the former team led by Brig. Gen. Marsudhi Hanafiah and formed a new team under Brig. Gen. Suryadharma to investigate Munir's case. "This team will search for new evidence," said Sutanto.
Asmara coolly responded to the changed team. "It's only lip service," he remarked. The ex-secretary-general of the National Human Rights Commission was not convinced that Suryadharma's team would uncover Munir's killer. "The police are facing a big power," he said. In Asmara's view, the President is the only one who can unveil the mystery of Munir's demise. "This case indeed depends on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono," he concluded. -- LRB/Maria Hasugian, Abdul Manan
------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service