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Fears expiry of Munir case will perpetuate impunity for intellectual actors

Kompas.com - September 6, 2022

Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – Indonesia Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) Director Gufron Mabruri says he hopes that the time limit for investigating the 2004 assassination of renowned human rights activist Munir Said Thalib – which will expire tomorrow on September 7 – will not become an excuse for the government not to pursue and try the masterminds behind the crime.

Mabruri also hopes that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will show a real commitment to solving the Munir murder case.

"A real commitment and concrete steps must be shown by president Jokowi, lest the pretext of the expiry be used to perpetuate the impunity of the perpetrators and the intellectual actors behind Munir's assassination", said Mabruri in a press release received by Kompas.com on Monday September 5.

According to Mabruri, the 18 year time limit on investigating the Munir case is because right from the start the case was treated as an ordinary homicide.

However, continued Mabruri, the impression is that the legal process has been pursued half-heartedly and only indicted the field operators or the executors, namely former Garuda Indonesia Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto and former Garuda Indonesia Executive Director Indra Setiawan.

Mabruri said that state and the government has never shown any seriousness about pursuing the intellectual actors who were the masterminds behind the assassination.

"Moreover, the administration of president Jokowi has not made any effort whatsoever to resolve the Munir case, instead it has even tended to pursue efforts to tightly cover up the Munir case by stating that the TPF (Munir murder fact finding team) report is not with the State Secretariat [and has been lost]", said Mabruri.

In relation to the TPF's report, said Mabruri, the Munir Case Advocacy Coalition (KASUM) has drafted and submitted a legal opinion with the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and is of the view that the Munir assassination meets the criteria of a crime against humanity.

"Based on this, there are actually no grounds not to immediately declare the Munir assassination cases a gross human rights violation", said Mabruri, meaning there would be no time-limit for an investigation.

Munir was murdered on September 7, 2004, onboard Garuda Indonesia Airlines flight GA-974 from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore.

A Kompas Daily article on September 8, 2004 noted that Munir died around two hours before landing at the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, at 8.10 am local time.

The autopsy report showed that there was arsenic in the former Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) chairperson's body.

Legal proceedings against the people who are considered to be behind Munir's murder have never been conducted.

A court sentenced Priyanto to 14 years in prison over the murder. On October 17, 2020 Priyanto died after being treated for 17 days for a Covid-19 infection. The courts also sentenced Setiawan to one year in prison for placing Priyanto on the same flight as Munir.

A number of facts which came out during the trial even cited the alleged involvement of senior officials from the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in the assassination. No senior BIN officials however have been found guilty in court.

On December 13, 2008 former BIN Deputy Director Muchdi Purwoprandjono or Muchdi Pr was tried over the case but found not guilty and released on all charges.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kasus Munir yang Segera Kedaluwarsa Diharap Tak Jadi Tameng Impunitas Aktor Intelektual".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/09/06/06300071/kasus-munir-yang-segera-kedaluwarsa-diharap-tak-jadi-tameng-impunitas-akto