Subject: JP: Judicial Commission Questions Munir Murder Case Judges

The Jakarta Post Saturday, June 06, 2009

Judicial Commission Questions Munir Murder Case Judges

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Judicial Commission questioned Friday the three South Jakarta District Court judges who acquitted Muchdi Purwopranjono of all charges in the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

"Yes, there was questioning of the judges today," commission member Thahir Saimima confirmed to The Jakarta Post over the phone.

"However, I can't give any more details because I'm not in Jakarta today."

Another member, Chatamarrasjid, said as quoted by that the questioning began at 2:30 p.m., and was led by commission chairman Busyro Muqqodas.

"The judge being questioned right now is Suharto, who presided over the panel of judges. The commission will also question the two other two judges [Aswandi and Ahmad Yusak]," he said.

"The questioning will probably be finished by 5 p.m."

In the Dec. 31, 2008, acquittal of Muchdi, judge Suharto said the prosecution had failed to prove Muchdi had hired Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to carry out the murder, for which the latter was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Muchdi's acquittal failed to unravel the conspiracy behind the high-profile murder and sparked protests from human rights activists across the country, who said the verdict disgraced the country's struggle to uphold human rights and justice.

The Judicial Commission is mandated to make inquiries into cases where there is intense public concern. The commission cannot charge judges with any irregularities, but can give recommendations to the Supreme Court on their rulings.

Munir, a prominent human rights activist, was found dead on board a Garuda flight to the Netherlands in September 2004. Joint investigations by the Indonesian and Dutch police later found he had been poisoned with arsenic.

Former Garuda president director Indra Setiawan and former chief secretary Rohainil Aini were also found guilty of issuing documents to allow Pollycarpus to board Munir's flight as a flight security officer.

Muchdi, former deputy chairman of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), is now the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

Muchdi claimed he was merely a pawn in a political struggle.

Gerindra's chief patron is Prabowo Subianto, the running mate of Megawati Soekarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) for the July 8 presidential election.

The party's manifesto on human rights upholds "cultural particularism and national interest" as opposed to universal human rights.

The party also "rejects the issue of human rights becoming a political instrument of foreign parties in domestic affairs".

Prabowo, a former Army general, has himself frequently been associated with human rights abuses, during his tour of duty in East Timor and involvement in the kidnappings, torture, abuse and murder of anti-Soeharto intellectuals and pro-democracy activists during the turmoil of 1998.

Fadly Zon, another Gerindra deputy chairman, has said repeatedly during discussions that any past human rights issues related to Prabowo should be treated as past issues, because there was no solid proof of his involvement and "everyone should get on with their lives and look toward the future". (hdt)

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