Subject: SMH & The Australian on Munir: Case Puts Heat on Indonesian Spies

also: The Australian: Activist Munir Said Thalib murder case puts heat on Indonesian spies

The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, June 21, 2008

Military chief arrested in search for activist's killer

by Mark Forbes in Bali

IN black silhouette on a red background, Thalib Munir's face stares from posters and T-shirts across Indonesia, Che Guevara-style, a haunting reminder of the immunity and brutal excesses of military powerbrokers.

The spectre of Mr Munir, Indonesia's leading human rights activist - poisoned on a flight to Amsterdam in 2004 - has haunted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his claims to have turned Indonesia into a just democracy.

For students, activists and many ordinary Indonesians, the blatant assassination of the man who had done most to expose widespread corruption and abuse within the military resonated. The failure to pursue his murderers came to symbolise the hesitancy of Dr Yudhoyono's reforms.

Cover-ups and botched investigations only served to fuel anger and a tireless campaign by his widow, Suciwati, garnered national sympathy and international support.

Nearly four years since her husband died an agonising mid-air death, Mrs Suciwati finally believes her crusade may bear fruit, with the arrest of Muchdi Purwopranjono, the former deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), late on Thursday night.

She warns the courts could still derail justice and believes other senior figures should be charged. Police had shown "bravery and commitment" in arresting the retired major-general but "still have a lot of work to do".

The arrest of General Muchdi, who oversaw the agency's covert operations at the time of Mr Munir's murder, raises questions of who else could be implicated.

A murder of this magnitude is unlikely to have been ordered without the approval of Indonesia's powerful intelligence chief Hendropriyono, observers believe.

Usman Hamid now heads the human rights watchdog Mr Munir founded, Kontras. He suggests this week's arrest was "just the beginning, we are at the start line of a marathon race to reveal the mystery of Munir's murder".

Police had told him other suspects, including the mastermind, remained at large, Mr Hamid said.

Andi Mallarangeng, a presidential spokesman, said Dr Yudhoyono had ordered law enforcers to uncover the perpetrators. Whoever was guilty must face justice, he said.

"The President keeps giving instructions to national police chief, the Attorney-General and all related institutions, … to cooperate in uncovering the Munir murder case thoroughly," Mr Mallarangeng said.

General Muchdi's trial will present an intriguing test for Indonesia's judicial system. The courts have already prevaricated on pursuing the case, finally convicting the Garuda pilot and alleged BIN agent Pollycarpus Priyanto for the murder, then overturning the conviction before reimposing it in January.

He accompanied Mr Munir to an airport coffee shop during transit in Singapore. Tests indicated that Mr Munir's drink was laced with arsenic there.

Investigators had revealed 41 phone calls between Pollycarpus and General Muchdi around the time of Mr Munir's murder. General Muchdi claimed ignorance and denied Pollycarpus was an agent.

A fresh investigation ordered by Dr Yudhoyono this year obtained testimony from another BIN agent that he was ordered by General Muchdi to help Pollycarpus.

It is rumoured that recovered computer records from General Muchdi's office confirm Pollycarpus was an agent and include a letter assigning him to the Munir case.

As a brave, outspoken young activist during the Soeharto era, Mr Munir was a constant thorn in the side of the military, exposing their abuses and corrupt activities in Papua, Aceh and East Timor.


The Australian Saturday, June 21, 2008

Activist Munir Said Thalib murder case puts heat on Indonesian spies

by Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent

THE widow of a murdered Indonesian human rights activist has called for more senior spies to be arrested, after the former deputy head of the country's national security agency was charged in the case.

Suciwati Munir, whose husband, Munir Said Thalib, was poisoned in 2004 during a flight from Jakarta to The Netherlands, praised police for their efforts in apprehending retired major-general Muchdi Purwopranjono.

The one-time head of Indonesia's Kopassus special forces division has been charged with premeditated murder and faces 20 years' jail. Police say he ordered a former Garuda pilot to murder the 38-year-old lawyer.

However, Ms Suciwati yesterday called for authorities to go further, saying they should act on a prior recommendation from a commission established by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that the former chief of the national spy agency, AM Hendropriyono, also be arrested.

"I have been waiting a long time for this - we appreciate the police's work," Ms Suciwati told The Weekend Australian.

"We see this as progress, and we see their courage and commitment," she said.

"But the other important thing we see is that Muchdi was not the main planner or the only one who gave the orders."

In an acknowledgement of the often corrupt carriage of justice in Indonesia's legal system, Ms Suciwati also warned that prosecutors must give "the same appreciation to the police for their work when the case goes to court".

There have already been two prosecutions in the case, of a former Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, found guilty of administering the deadly poison, and of the airline's former chief executive, Indra Setiawan.

Pollycarpus is serving 20 years' jail and Setiawan one year for the murder.

The involvement of the secretive National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the murder has long been the subject of speculation but General Muchdi's arrest is the first instance of authorities acting on it.

Munir, a human rights lawyer whose greatest achievements include uncovering military abuses in Aceh, Papua and the former Indonesian East Timor, was thought to have become a target of BIN operatives because of his investigations.

As deputy director at the time of the murder, General Muchdi was in charge of covert operations at the agency.

Evidence during Pollycarpus's trial emerged that the former pilot had had regular communication by mobile phone with General Muchdi.

However, police yesterday said the general was claiming he had never had any dealings with Pollycarpus.

"He denies that there was any meeting between them," a police spokesman said.

They said General Muchdi denied any involvement in a letter from his agency to Garuda which requested Pollycarpus be assigned as an aviation security officer at the airline - in order that he could more easily carry out the murder - or with the payment of several thousand dollars to Pollycarpus, as alleged by a witness in the latter's trial.

Vice-President Jusuf Kalla yesterday hailed both "the good police work and Muchdi's surrender".

Prosecutors had summonsed the retired general to appear yesterday but he apparently surprised them by turning himself in on Thursday.

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