Subject: Former top spy cleared of Indonesian activist Munir' s poison murder

also: AFP update: Former top spy cleared of Indonesian activist's poison murder

The Jakarta Post [web site]

December 31, 2008

Munir Supporters Stage Rally at Presidential Palace

Around 200 Munir supporters staged a rally at the Presidential Palace in protest of a recent court ruling that cleared the former intelligence officer of murder on Wednesday.

The rally participants, said to consist of members of the Action Committee for Munir, Workers Union, Legal Study and Aid Institute and Muslim college groups, called for justice to be upheld.

"This is proof that Indonesian legal verdicts are spoofs in light of anti-Munir pressure," a demonstrator said, as quoted by

The South Jakarta District Court had previously cleared Former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy chief Maj. Gen. Muchdi Purwopranjono of all murder-related charges due to inconclusive evidences.

"The defendant is not legally nor certainly proven to have been involved in the killing of Munir," Presiding Judge Suharto told the court earlier in the day.

State prosecutors had previously accused Muchdi of having played a part in the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, who died from arsenic poisoning aboard a Garuda Indonesia flight on Sept. 7, 2004, from Singapore to Amsterdam. They had sought a 15-year prison term for the offense.

Munir was well-known to have led a campaign aimed at exposing human rights abuses by the military under the late state leader Suharto. (amr)


Former top spy cleared of Indonesian activist's poison murder

JAKARTA, Dec. 31 (AFP) - An Indonesian court on Wednesday cleared the former deputy head of the country's spy agency of masterminding the 2004 poisoning murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Prosecutors had been seeking a 15-year jail term for the former State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Deputy Chief Muchdi Purwopranjono for plotting the murder of the activist, who was an outspoken critic of the country's military.

The investigation into the killing is seen as a litmus test in Indonesia of how far the country has come in loosening the grip of the once-dominant military since the 1998 fall of dictator Suharto.

Munir, who died aged 38, was poisoned with arsenic as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore on national airline Garuda Indonesia in September 2004.

"Muchdi Purwopranjono cannot be proved legally and convincingly to have ordered the murder of Munir," a judge named Suharto told a court in Jakarta.

"He should be removed from detention immediately," he said.

Purwopranjono was the first military official to face trial over the murder, which activists have long alleged was the work of senior intelligence officers.

Former Garuda airline boss Indra Setiawan and pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto were slapped with jail terms previously for their roles in the murder.

Munir was a prominent critic of human rights abuses by the military and provided legal counsel to victims of state violence during former dictator Suharto's 32-year rule.

Prosecutors had alleged the killing was an act of revenge after Munir had uncovered the kidnapping of 13 activists allegedly by special forces under Purwopranjono's command in the late 1990s.

The scandal led to the former general's sacking as special forces chief, according to the indictment.

But Munir's widow Suciwati said that she was disappointed by the court's decision.

"It's painful. It shows that the bad guys have won... we'll fight on," Suciwati said.

"Today we move one step back. But we'll move 10 steps forward. We have to stand united to fight for justice," she added.

About 600 Munir supporters, donning red T-shirts with the slogan "Justice for Munir, justice for all", broke into chants of "Killer, killer, killer" outside the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

But when Purwopranjono's supporters walked past they mockingly chanted: "Who killed Munir? Muchdi killed Munir."

Around 200 of the former spy's backers sang the Indonesian national anthem on hearing the verdict.

"It's an extraordinary feeling. The truth has prevailed. Purwopranjono was freed because he had done nothing wrong," said supporter Herujohan Shah.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, an ex-general who became Indonesia's first directly elected leader in 2004, has promised to leave no stone unturned in the search for the "mastermind" of Munir's killing.

"Not only Munir's wife Suciwati, but all Indonesians who seek justice, are the victims of this. Justice has not been done," human rights activist Rafendi Djamin said.

The National Commission on Human Rights urged the authorities to do more to bring Munir's killers to justice.

"The Munir case is far from over. The police need to find more evidence and the prosecutors have to bring this case back to the court," commission head Ifdhal Kasim told AFP.

"Many witnesses, especially from BIN, withdrew from being witnesses," he said.

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