UPDATE (Indonesia): Final review appeal begins on Munir’s death


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-115-2007
ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Legislation, Victims assistance & protection,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) had been informed that the final review appeal into the Supreme Court’s ruling acquitting the sole suspect into the death of a prominent human rights activist, Mr. Munir Said Thalib, has began on 16 August 2007. Munir died of arsenic poisoning on a Garuda Indonesia Airways flight to Amsterdam on 7 September 2004. Two years ago, the Supreme Court acquitted a former Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, from the charge of murder. This attempt to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling is unprecedented in the history of Indonesia.


A final review appeal over the Supreme Court’s decision to acquit the sole suspect in the death of prominent human rights activist Mr. Munir Said Thalib commenced on 16 August 2007. The unprecedented legal move to reverse the Supreme Court ruling was initiated by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). The review appeal was filed based on article 263 of the Criminal Code Procedure, which stipulates that a case review can be filed if a court ruling can be proven to be incorrect or that a statement from the ruling contradicts its basis. The AGO continues to charge that former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was responsible for Munir’s death. This has been the first case in Indonesia to review a ruling made by the Supreme Court.

Last December, the Supreme Court has annulled Pollycarpus from a 14-year jail term relating to the Munir’s case issued by the District Court in December 2005. The Supreme Court rules that Pollycarpus had only committed an administrative violation, and thereby sentenced him for two years in jail for forgery. Pollycarpus was freed last December. Findings of the independent Fact Finding Team (TPF), however, reveal that Pollycarpus is closely linked with the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) behind an alleged murder conspiracy.

The former director of Garuda, Indra Setiawan, confirmed receiving a letter from the BIN requesting him to assign Pollycarpus as the aviation security officer on Munir’s flight. Asmara Nababan, former deputy chairperson of the TPF, stated that the letter indicates Pollycarpus’s status as a BIN agent. Mobile phone records also allegedly implicate linkage between the two. However, Pollycarpus continues to deny such connection. The actual letter from BIN was lost. Nevertheless, the TPF concluded that there were “strong forces” that pressured Indra Setiawan in granting Pollycarpus access to Munir’s flight.

Setiawan and the secretary to the Garuda chief pilot, Rohainil Aini, were charge as new suspects into the case by the National Police. They are charged under Article 340 of the Criminal Code on premeditated murder. Aini, who allegedly fabricated documents in order to allow Pollycarpus on board, had also been charged of forgery under Article 263.

New evidence was also discovered in the final review appeal. One witness, a III-c level BIN deputy agent, Raden Muhammad Patma Anwar (a.k.a. Ucok), said that he was under the order of BIN Second Deputy, Manunggal Maladi, to kill Munir. A telephone conversation between Setiawan and Pollycarpus played this week at the court session reveals alleged government involvement in Munir’s death. In the taped conversation, Pollycarpus asserted that the ministry, the Chief Justice Bagir, as well as the Supreme Court, are all on his and Setiawan’s side. He reassured Setiawan that there is nothing to worry about the ongoing investigation, and reminded him to be consistent with their denials to any linkage with the murder.

At the time of his death, Munir founded the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence. He is critical of the Indonesian Military whom he accused of committing rights violations, illegal logging and smuggling Aceh and Papua provinces.

Munir’s case is closely monitored by the international community. It has drawn attention from the United Nations, in particular mandate personnel from the High Commissioner of Human Rights. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions, had expressed concerns over the Supreme Court’s ruling in a formal report during the 4th Human Rights Council conference. Alston has continued to pay close attention to the new findings by the TPF. In another development, the recent visit in Indonesia by Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, further expresses hope that the case will be investigated thoroughly.

In spite of official commitment from local authorities, there are still concerns over legal proceedings of the final review appeal. As there is alleged involvement by high level officials by the BIN, witness protection extremely important in the progress of this case. The Indonesian Law on Witnesses and Victims Protection has only been promulgated on 11 August 2006. The Justice and Human Rights Minister, Andi Mattalata, however acknowledged the delay in the implementation of the witness protection law recently.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-115-2007
Countries : Indonesia,
Campaigns : Munir Said Thalib
Issues : Extrajudicial killings, Impunity, Legislation, Victims assistance & protection,