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Munir murder investigation must go on despite Pollycarpus' death: Criminal law experts

Jakarta Post - October 18, 2020

A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – The recent death of Pollycarpus Priyanto, who was convicted of murdering human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, should not deter law enforcement from further investigating those behind Munir's murder, criminal law experts have said.

"There should be no reason to stop [further investigation into Munir's death] just because [Pollycarpus] is dead, if law enforcement is really willing to do so," Trisakti University law expert Yenti Garnasih told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

She said that as Pollycarpus had already been sentenced and even finished his sentence, his role behind Munir's death had been established, so law enforcement should look for clues from established sources, including records from Pollycarpus' trial.

She also said that even if Pollycarpus had additional information, there was no reason to believe that he would have revealed it after completing his sentence, as it would have been more advantageous for him to reveal such information during the trial to reduce his punishment.

"This [Munir's death] is a premediated murder. So it's the responsibility of the state to figure out who is actually behind the case," Yenti said.

Meanwhile, Parahyangan University criminal law expert Agustinus Pohan expressed skepticism that Pollycarpus would have revealed more about the murder had he lived longer.

"With his death we lost one of the sources. However, during his lifetime [he] did not give any indications of wanting to reveal more," Agustinus told the Post.

The more significant hurdle to the investigation may be the statute of limitations, which is set to end in 2022.

According to Article 78 of the Criminal Code, the statute of limitations for a crime charged with the death sentence or life in prison is 18 years.

"We can still discover more [after 2022], but we won't be able to press charges. However, any discoveries would still be relevant and important especially to prevent a similar case from happening in the future," Agustinus said.

The Solidarity Action Committee for Munir (KASUM) has said that Pollycarpus' death should not end the investigation.

"We believe that the investigation into Munir's murder has not been held back by a lack of evidence or by Pollycarpus' death but rather by the government's lack of political will," KASUM secretary-general and constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti said on Sunday.

Pollycarpus was reported dead at 2:52 p.m. on Saturday at Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta, after testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks earlier, according to Pollycarpus' former lawyer, Wirawan Adnan.

Pollycarpus was the Garuda airline pilot during Munir's death on a flight from Jakarta to Singapore on Sept. 6, 2004. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2006 for his role in the death, despite prosecutors initially demanding life in prison. He was granted parole by the government in 2014 and officially completed his sentence in 2018.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/10/18/munir-murder-investigation-must-go-on-despite-pollycarpus-death-criminal-law-experts.html