New Suspects in Murder of Leading Indonesian Human Rights Lawyer
New York – Human Rights First today welcomed news that Indonesian police had named two new suspects in the murder of Indonesian human rights lawyer Munir, but urged the authorities to ensure that those who planned and ordered the crime do not escape justice.
Munir, a leading critic of the state’s involvement in human rights violations, died on September 7, 2004, after being poisoned with arsenic on a flight to the Netherlands. Former senior intelligence officials tied to the crime through phone records have never been investigated.
“The effective prosecution of new suspects could lead to a measure of justice in the Munir case and help to uncover who was really behind the murder plot,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First. “Two things must now happen. First, the authorities must prepare solid indictments with appropriate charges, and prosecute them rigorously. Second, they must answer the central question: ‘who ordered officials of the state airline to facilitate a murder?’ Munir’s memory and legacy deserve no less.”
An off-duty copilot named Pollycarpus was convicted of carrying out the murder, but his murder conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in October 2006. Today the Attorney General’s office also asked the Supreme Court to review that decision, a process known as peninjauan kembali, or case review.
A presidential fact-finding team linked the copilot to senior intelligence officials through phone records. The team also found that top airline officials had provided documents that allowed the copilot to travel on Munir’s flight.
Today the police identified the two new suspects as officials of the state airline Garuda with the initials IS and R. Documents from the Pollycarpus trial have identified Garuda’s CEO and its Vice President of Corporate Security as having provided the copilot with documents in an irregular fashion.
President Yudhoyono has called the Munir case a test for Indonesian democracy, but has never released the report of the fact-finding team he created. Members of the United States Congress, as well as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, have called on President Yudhoyono to release the report and act on its recommendations.