January 25, 2008
We can at last report some progress in the investigation into the fatal poisoning of the human rights activist Munir. The Indonesian Supreme Court has just reversed its acquittal of an off-duty copilot of the murder, sending him back to jail for 20 years.
But the mystery has only been partly solved. Three employees of the state airline have now been charged and one convicted. But why would airline employees want to kill a human rights lawyer?
The answer may lie in the 41 phone calls between the copilot and the phone of a senior intelligence official around the time of the murder. What’s more, in late 2007, an intelligence agent told police that he had acted as a go-between for the two men.
Enough is enough. It has been more than three years since the murder, and the Indonesian authorities must credibly investigate senior intelligence officials who have been implicated through phone records and the sworn statements of their colleagues.
Please call on the Indonesian police and prosecutors to charge any senior officials if there is evidence that they were involved in planning or ordering the murder of Munir.
Read HRF press release here.
Watch video of Munir here.
Chief of the National Police of Indonesia
I was pleased to learn that the Supreme Court decided to accept the case review of its decision in the trial of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto and has convicted him of the murder of Munir. However, it is clear that Priyanto is just one part of a complex, well-coordinated plot to silence one of Indonesia’s leading human rights defenders. I urge Indonesia’s police and prosecutors to complete its investigations and to charge anyone credibly linked to the planning or ordering of the murder, or who has committed perjury during the investigation.
In the three years since Munir’s fatal poisoning en route to Amsterdam, only one person has been convicted. A co-pilot for the state airline named Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was found guilty of premeditated murder, but his murder conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in October 2006 and he was soon released. In late 2007 the Supreme Court agreed to review its decision, and on January 25 reinstated the murder conviction, sending Priyanto back to jail for a 20-year term. The unanimous decision by a panel of five judges cited new evidence and noted a political motive for the murder.
The conviction of Pollycarpus removes an obstacle to charging further suspects, up to and including senior intelligence officials. Law enforcement officials had reportedly used the pending Supreme Court decision as a justification to hold off on charging new suspects.
The decision was handed down as new evidence emerges linking Priyanto to the intelligence agency. At the time of the murder there were dozens of calls between the copilot and the phone of a senior intelligence official named Muchdi Purwopranjono. Purwopranjono denies knowing Priyanto, but prosecutors recently announced that another intelligence agent told the police he was a go-between between the two men.
The intelligence agent, Budi Santoso, never appeared at the trials, and has apparently been transferred to a new position in Pakistan. It will be important to have Santoso questioned under oath in any new proceedings.
I urge the Indonesian police to submit thoroughly investigated dossiers to prosecutors, who must charge anyone for whom there is evidence of involvement in planning, ordering, or carrying out the murder of Munir.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter,