Indonesian spy facing death over activist’s murder

Agustus 21, 2008 at 9:40 am (Uncategorized) ()

Thursday August 21, 1:39 PM

Sumber : Yahoo! News Asia


Photo: AFP
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JAKARTA (AFP) – A former Indonesian secret police officer was charged Thursday with planning the murder of a celebrated rights activist who had challenged abuses by the military-led Suharto regime.

Muchdi Purwopranjono, 59, an ex-deputy chief of the State Intelligence Agency, was read the charge as his long-awaited trial began amid a blaze of media scrutiny.

He is facing the death penalty for allegedly organising the team that poisoned Munir Said Thalib with arsenic on a flight from Singapore to Amsterdam in 2004.

It is the first time a high-ranking figure in the military establishment has faced justice over the murder, which rights activists have long suspected was the work of the secret intelligence services.

The proceedings are being closely watched as a test of Indonesia’s post-Suharto reform movement. Defence lawyers have already said they are afraid their client will not receive a fair trial.

“My client isn’t afraid of anything but a biased and unfair trial due to pressures from many parties, including from the international community,” lawyer Achmad Cholid was quoted as saying in The Jakarta Post.

About 50 nationalists calling themselves the “Red and White Brigade” after the colours of the Indonesian flag rallied in support of Muchdi outside the court.

They accused Munir of trying to destroy the country and denounced his supporters as agents of the United States.

Munir, who died aged 38, was the leader of independent rights watchdog Kontras and a vocal campaigner for victims of military abuses under the 1966-1998 Suharto dictatorship.

Muchdi, a former military general, has been in custody since he turned himself in to police on June 19 in Jakarta. He has denied the allegations.

Activists said Muchdi’s arrest was a victory in the struggle against military impunity.

Former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto was jailed for 20 years earlier this year for poisoning the activist, while Garuda’s ex-boss Indra Setiawan was also jailed for one year as an accomplice.

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