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Rights watchdog says Paniai human rights trial in Makassar 'just a formality'

CNN Indonesia - November 15, 2022

Makassar – The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) says that the court hearings into the Paniai gross human rights violations in Papua, which are taking place at the Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi, are nothing more than a formality.

A sole defendant, namely retired Infantry Major Isak Sattu, is being tried in the case. The public prosecutor (JPU) team is demanding that the court hand down a sentence of 10 years in prison.

"We are still proclaiming that the human rights trial into the 2014 Paniai incident is merely just a formality, because every part of the process is still far from the word justice and there has been no law enforcement for civil society, especially indigenous Papuans over the last two decades", said Kontras Impunity Monitoring Division head Tioria Pretty Stephanie on Tuesday November 15.

Moreover, said Stephanie, during the hearings to cross-examine witnesses, there was minimal involvement of the victims and civilian witnesses in the process.

"So, it is not surprising if the narrative which has emerged over during the court hearings have been the narrative constructed by the TNI (Indonesian military) and the Polri (Indonesian police)", she said.

Based on the reading out of notes on various testimonies which were very much dominated by elements from the TNI and Polri, said Stephanie, the prosecutor then demanded that the defendant be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

"The prosecutor was sure that the defendant was guilty of the two articles he has been charged under, namely crimes against humanity in the form of killings and mistreatment with also the use of the chain of command", she said.

According to Stephanie, a sentence of 10 years in prison is the lightest sentence possible for a perpetrator who fulfills the elements of Articles 36 and 40 of Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights Courts for the type of humanitarian crime which was committed.

"Although the JPU elaborated at great length about the chronology and the forms of the defendant's errors in which he was primarily deemed to have failed to coordinate with officials which had greater authority in order to prevent the incident from taking place, the JPU cited several points which favoured the defendant and only demanded the minimal punishment", she explained.

In reading out the sentence demands, the prosecutor said the defendant is being charged under Article 42 Paragraph 1a and b in conjunction with Article 7b, Article 9a and Article 37 of Law Number 26/2000. (mir/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was " KontraS Sebut Proses Pengadilan HAM Paniai Hanya Formalitas Semata".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20221115122639-12-873896/kontras-sebut-proses-pengadilan-ham-paniai-hanya-formalitas-semata