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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Munir’s Murderer Must Not Get Case Review: Activist

Munir was poisoned to death on his way to the Netherlands in 2004.The Supreme Court should reject any request for a case review by the pilot convicted of the murder of Munir Said Thalib because it would have no legal standing, a rights activist said on Sunday. 

Now serving a 20-year-jail term for the murder of the human rights campaigner, former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, 50, has said he planned to request a review of his case. 

But Choirul Anam, director of the Human Rights Working Group, said the Supreme Court had already granted a review request made by the prosecution, and in 2008 the court increased his initial 14-year-jail term to 20 years. 

“Legally, in our justice system, you cannot have a review of a Supreme Court verdict on a judicial review,” said Choirul, who is also a member of the Committee of Action and Solidarity for Munir (Kasum). 

“The Supreme Court has already issued a circular which states clearly that a case review cannot be requested on a ruling stemming from a judicial review,” he said. “Any case review request made by Pollycarpus needs to be dismissed over this technicality.” 

Choirul’s remarks were made on the heels of statements issued by Muhammad Assegaf, a lawyer for Pollycarpus, who claimed he had new evidence that could serve as the basis for a review. The attorney was not immediately available for comment on Sunday. 

Appealing a Supreme Court ruling through a case review is an extraordinary legal move and is considered the final level of appeal, with the requirement that new evidence must be submitted. 

In 2005, Pollycarpus was sentenced to 14 years in jail by a lower district court in Jakarta for the 2004 murder of Munir, but the murder conviction was quashed via a Supreme Court appeal. 

In early 2008, the Supreme Court accepted a case review by the prosecution and changed its verdict, sentencing Pollycarpus to 20 years in jail, adding the additional charge of document forgery. 

Pollycarpus was found guilty of administering a fatal dose of arsenic into Munir’s drink during a stopover on an Amsterdam-bound flight in 2004. The activist died on Sept. 7 of that year. 

The ruling said Pollycarpus falsified documents so he was allowed to join the flight as an in-flight security officer although he was originally assigned for other duty on the same day. 

Prosecutors won the case against Pollycarpus after they presented wiretapped phone conversations between him and then Garuda president Indra Setiawan. 

In the taped recordings, Pollycarpus described former Supreme Court Chief Justice Bagir Manan as “our man” and compared then-Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh to Petruk, a clown servant in Javanese wayang puppet performances. 

Choirul pointed out that it was also a technicality that prompted the Supreme Court to reject a case review by the three Bali bombers, militants who were later executed by a firing squad for their role in the October 2002 bombings. 

The trio — Amrozi, Ali Ghufron and Imam Samudera — had their case review request rejected ahead of their execution in November 2008, because a similar request to the Supreme Court had been turned down before, and the Supreme Court only allows one request. 

While Pollycarpus has been convicted for his role in Munir’s murder, rights groups have long said that others, including senior intelligence figure Muchdi Purwopranjono, should also be held to account.

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