Subject: Suciwati, Kontras Continue to Question Muchdi's Innocence in Munir Case

also Rights Activists Ready Submissions In Case Muchdi Acquittal Appealed

The Jakarta Globe

Saturday, February 10, 2008

Suciwati, Kontras Continue to Question Muchdi's Innocence

Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Heru Andriyanto

An appeal by Muchdi Purwoprandjono to the National Commission on Human Rights on Thursday for protection against those who have questioned his acquittal appears to have failed.

"If Muchdi accuses me of calling him Munir's murderer, then so be it. I admit that and I still believe it," Usman Hamid, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, said on Friday. "A conspiracy lies behind Munir's murder and I believe that [Muchdi] was involved."

Muchdi was acquitted on Dec. 31 of charges that he ordered the murder of rights activist Munir Said Thalib,

Usman, who was part of the government-sanctioned fact-finding team that investigated the murder, said he would not withdraw comments that Munir was murdered for disclosing that the former deputy head of the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, was involved in kidnapping 13 activists when he served with the Army's feared special forces, Kopassus, in 1997-98.

Munir's widow, Suciwati, was of a similar opinion, despite threats from Muchdi that he would report anyone who questioned his innocence to the police.

"Just go ahead [and call the police]. I do not care," Suciwati said.

Both Usman and Suciwati believed that Muchdi was trying to save his own skin by attempting to divert attention away from an appeal by the Attorney General's Office of the South Jakarta District Court's shock acquittal.

"I hope the public will not be deceived by [Muchdi's] mind games," Usman said.

"For me," Suciwati said, "it is better for everyone, including the court, prosecutors and police authorities, to focus on how to reveal and find all of Munir's murderers. That must be done first."

Usman said that a team was still carrying out an examination of the verdict, which was expected to be completed in one to two days. He said that a former Supreme Court judge, Adi Andojo, was also helping them.

"I hope we can publish the result in the next few days. In addition, we will also hand over the result to the AGO before filing the appeal," Usman said.

An AGO spokesman has said his office would appeal the court's decision. Deputy attorney general for general crimes, Abdul Hakim Ritonga, on Friday said the AGO was analyzing a copy of the Muchdi verdict to prepare the appeal documents for the Supreme Court.

"We believe we have a case," Ritonga said, adding that the AGO still believed Muchdi's motive was revenge.

The South Jakarta District Court cleared Muchdi of the charges against him after judges said prosecutors had failed to prove any links between him and Pollycarpus Priyanto, a former Garuda pilot who has already been sentenced to 20 years in jail for carrying out the murder in Sept. 7, 2004.


The Jakarta Globe

Monday, January 05, 2009

Rights Activists Ready Submissions In Case Muchdi Acquittal Appealed

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

Rights activists in Jakarta are preparing legal submissions in the event of an Attorney-General's Office appeal against last week's acquittal of a former top intelligence officer on a charge that he ordered the murder of fellow activist Munir Said Thalib.

The activists, grouped under the banner of the Committee of Solidarity Actions for Munir, or Kasum, were examining the verdict to look for gaps and mistakes during the trial, spokesman Usman Hamid said on Sunday.

"The result will serve as input for the prosecutors," said Usman, who is also chairman of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence, or Kontras. "We hope it may be useful for them in appealing the case to the Supreme Court."

He said Kasum would hand its findings to the National Police and Judicial Commission.

A panel of judges in the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday acquitted retired Maj. Gen. Muchdi Purwoprandjono of the charges against him, citing a lack of evidence.

Choirul Anam, a member of Kasum, said on Sunday that the activist groups believed that prosecutors and judges came under pressure from outside parties during Muchdi's trial.

He said that could be seen early on when prosecutors demanded only 15 years imprisonment for Muchdi for ordering the murder. Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty for former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto, who was convicted of murdering Munir in January 2008 and sentenced by the Supreme Court to 20 years in jail.

'It is very strange and makes us believe that the verdict resulted from political intervention'

Choirul Anam, human rights activist, on Muchdi's acquittal

Prosecutors accused Muchdi of abusing his power in the State Intelligence Agency by ordering Munir be killed to "avenge his dismissal from the top post of the Army's Special Forces, or Kopassus."

They said Muchdi was dismissed from Kopassus after Munir and Kontras, which Munir had founded, accused the elite military unit of being involved in the kidnapping of 13 student activists in 1997 and 1998. However, Choirul said the prosecutors had to establish links between the defendant and Pollycarpus.

The activists' committee also believed the judges had not attempted to learn why some witnesses, during the course of the trial, retracted depositions they had earlier given to the police.

All of these witnesses were former and current military and intelligence officers and must have been similarly motivated in withdrawing the statements, Choirul said.

"It is very strange and makes us believe that the verdict resulted from political intervention," he said.

"The president should urge the security agencies to investigate it."

Meanwhile, Fadli Zon, who, along with Muchdi, is a member of the Gerindra Party, said on Sunday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should not question the National Police chief or Attorney General over the trial. He said that the president should respect the independence of the courts in all legal cases.

"Yudhoyono should focus on improving the national economic situation that has made Indonesian people suffer so much," Fadli was reported by the news portal as saying.

Responding to Fadli's statement, Usman said any Indonesian president had the right to pay attention to Munir's case.

He said this was because the House of Representatives in 2006 had ordered the government to resolve the case by finding the identity of everyone involved in Munir's murder.

"What Fadli Zon said just shows us how panicked [Gerindra leaders] are right now, and how they are trying to mislead public opinion," Usman said.

A spokesman for Yudhoyono had earlier said the president would ask the National Police chief and the attorney general to brief him on the trial "before deciding the necessary legal steps in response to the verdict."

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