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Churches call for halt to appeal in Viktor Yeimo's case

Tabloid Jubi - May 23, 2023

Jayapura, Jubi – Rev. Benny Giay, the Moderator of the Papua Council of Churches, paid a visit to the Papua High Prosecutor's Office in Jayapura City on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. His purpose was to request that the Papua High Prosecutor's Office refrain from appealing the verdict of the Jayapura District Court in the treason case against Viktor Yeimo.

Giay was received by a prosecutor and they engaged in a discussion regarding the court decision concerning Viktor Yeimo, the International Spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB)

According to Giay, the meeting lasted approximately 90 minutes. He mentioned that he handed over a letter from the Papuan Council of Churches to the head of the Papua High Prosecutor's Office during the meeting. Giay emphasized that the Jayapura District Court had acquitted Viktor Yeimo of treason charges, and he appealed to the Papua High Prosecutor's Office not to challenge the verdict.

"When we met at the Papua High Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday, the meeting went smoothly. We have submitted a letter requesting the cessation of appeal actions by the High Prosecutor's Office," Giay stated in an interview with Jubi.

Viktor Yeimo's case pertained to his alleged involvement in the Papuan anti-racism protest, which aimed to denounce the racial insults directed at Papuan students in Surabaya on August 16, 2019. The case was reviewed by a panel of judges led by chief judge Mathius and accompanied by member judges Andi Asmuruf and Linn Carol Hamadi.

On February 21, 2021, the Public Prosecutor charged Viktor Yeimo with treason for playing a leading role in the demonstrations that occurred in Jayapura City on August 19 and 29, 2019. In the initial indictment, Yeimo faced charges of conspiracy, incitement, and active participation in treason, as specified under Article 106 in conjunction with Article 55 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code.

In the second indictment, Yeimo faced charges of conspiring to commit treason, as outlined in Article 110 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code. The third indictment accuses Yeimo of encouraging, commanding, or participating in acts that provide opportunities for treason, as stated in Article 110, paragraph (2). Lastly, in the fourth indictment, Yeimo is charged with incitement, either verbally or in writing, to commit criminal acts, engage in violence against public authorities, or disregard legal provisions or official orders, as specified in Article 160 of the Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 55 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code.

On April 27, 2023, Viktor Yeimo was convicted of treason under the first count of Article 106 by the public prosecutor. The prosecutor recommended a 3-year prison sentence for Viktor Yeimo.

However, in the verdict announced on May 5, 2023, the Panel of Judges concluded that the four charges brought by the public prosecutor against Viktor Yeimo were not substantiated.

Instead, the Panel of Judges found Yeimo guilty of violating Article 155 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code and sentenced him to eight months of imprisonment.

However, the verdict against Viktor Yeimo was based on an article that had been invalidated by the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court Decision No. 6/PUU-V/2007, announced on July 17, 2007, declared Articles 154 and 155 of the Criminal Code unconstitutional, rendering them legally void.

Recently on May 12, the Papua High Prosecutor's Office filed an appeal against the decision made by the Jayapura District Court. The appeal was submitted by public prosecutor Yanuar Fihawiano.

The Papua Council of Churches perceives the appeal as an indication of the state's attempt to perpetuate racism against the indigenous Papuans. "There is an intention by the state to perpetuate racism against indigenous Papuans," Giay said.

He demanded the Papua High Prosecutor's Office to respect the rights of Papuans, including Viktor Yeimo, to express their opposition to racial discrimination against Papuans.

"Viktor Yeimo is a victim of a system that neglects the human rights of Papuans," said Giay. (*)

Source: https://en.jubi.id/churches-call-for-halt-to-appeal-in-viktor-yeimos-case