Jayapura – Emanuel Gobay of the Papua Coalition for Law Enforcement and Human Rights, the legal counsel for the seven Morning Star raisers charged with treason, read out their defense memorandum in a trial at the Jayapura District Court on Monday, August 22, 2022. In the defense memorandum, the coalition asked the panel of judges to acquit the seven defendants from all charges and demands.
The seven defendants are Melvin Yobe (29), Melvin Fernando Waine (25), Devio Tekege (23), Yosep Ernesto Matuan (19), Maksimus Simon Petrus You (18), Lukas Kitok Uropmabin (21), and Ambrosius Fransiskus Elopere (21). They were charged with treason for raising the Morning Star flag at Cenderawasih Sports Centre in Jayapura City on December 1, 2021.
The trial was led by a panel of judges at the Jayapura District Court presided by RF Tampubolon, with member judges Mathius and Iriyanto T.
The coalition stated that the Public Prosecutor could not prove legally and convincingly that the seven defendants committed treason as referred to in Article 106 of the Criminal Code Jo Article 55 Paragraph (1) to 1 Criminal Code.
The coalition elaborated that the action carried out by Melvin Yobe and his friends on December 1, 2021, was no other than celebrating a cultural birthday for the Papuan people, especially when there were no efforts by the Indonesian government to reconstruct Papua's history as Papuan people pleased.
"The Morning Star-raising and the march were part of the demand for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to clarify the history of Papua, as mandated by Law No. 2/2021 on the Second Amendment to Law No. 21/2001 concerning Special Autonomy for Papua," said Gobay reading out the memorandum of defense.
The memorandum of defense further stated that the defendant's actions did not disrupt public activities or public order. The defendants also did not resist when arrested by the police.
The coalition also argued that the Morning Star flag was part of the expression of a cultural symbol. Whenever the flag is raised, does not necessarily mean Papua separates itself from Indonesia.
The coalition stated that five of the 17 witnesses presented by the public prosecutor did not know about the legal basis that prohibited the Morning Star flag in Indonesia. The witnesses also said that the raising of the Morning Star by the defendants did not immediately free Papua.
In the defense memorandum, the coalition emphasized that the public prosecutor was also unable to present an expert witness to explain the treason article charged against Melvin Yobe and his friends.
"Therefore, the treason article charged against the defendants cannot be proven by the public prosecutor, on the grounds that the public prosecutor was unable to present an expert witness in the trial," said Gobay.
The memorandum of defense stated that the treason charge against Melvin Yobe and his friends was part of the police's attempt to misuse the treason article and criminalize freedom of expression in public, which is the spirit of the 1945 Constitution. The coalition also questioned the police who arrested the seven Morning Star fliers without a warrant.
Gobay asked the panel of judges to acquit the seven defendants from all charges and demands of the Public Prosecutor. "As well as rehabilitating the good name of Melvin Yobe and his friends in the community, and charging the costs of the case to the state," read Emanuel Gobay.
After listening to the defense memorandum, the panel of judges adjourned the hearing until Wednesday, August 24. In Wednesday's hearing, the public prosecutor will submit a response to the defense memorandum of the Papua Coalition of Law Enforcement and Human Rights.