Haryanti Puspa Sari, Jakarta – Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) Director Arif Maulana says that the government has two more years left to solve the assassination of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib before the case expires.
The date of expiry for the Munir case is counted from one day after his assassination on September 7, 2004. Based on Article 78 Paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP), crimes subject to the death penalty or life imprisonment have an expiration date of 18 years and can no longer be prosecuted after this.
“And what is of concern to us is that this case will become a problem in two years, in 2022, 18 years after Munir’s death on September 7, 2004, the case could be closed. Why? Because there are stipulations on the expiry date. The problem is that the case will be closed within a certain time period”, said Maulana during a virtual discussion on Monday September 7.
Maulana said that if the Munir case is closed then the perpetrators who were the intellectual actors behind the murder will be free. The consequence being that the Munir case will not be solved and it will extend the practice of impunity in Indonesia.
“If this case is left unsolved for two more years, it will be a bad president for law enforcement and human rights in Indonesia, and aside from this it will extend the list of impunity which has become a gloomy record in Indonesia”, said Maulana.
According to Maulana, the Attorney General and the police need to solve the Munir case in the next two years. He added that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has already given his support to resolving the case.
“And the police and the Attorney General [must be] serious, this case could still be solved, there is still two more years to go. But we don’t know, whether or not the president has the courage to do this”, he said.
Two people have been sentenced for their alleged involvement in Munir’s assassination.
A court sentenced off-duty Garuda Indonesia Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to 14 years in prison over the murder. The case also went through several levels of appeal.
In addition to this, the courts also sentenced Garuda Indonesia Executive Director Indra Setiawan to one year in prison for putting Priyanto on the same flight as Munir.
A number of facts which surfaced during the trials suggested the involvement of senor State Intelligence Agency (BIN) officials in the murder.
No senior BIN officials however have been found guilty by the courts. On December 13, 2008, former BIN Deputy Director, retired Major General Muchdi Purwoprandjono was tried over the case but acquitted of all charges.
Following Munir’s death, an autopsy found traces of arsenic in his body. It was alleged that Munir was poisoned during a flight from Jakarta to Singapore or during a stopover in Singapore.
A Kompas daily report on September 8, 2004 said that Munir died on Garuda Indonesia flight GA-974 from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore, at 8.10 am or around two hours before the flight landed at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.
Flight GA-974 departed from Jakarta on Monday at 9.55 pm then arrived in Singapore on Tuesday at 12.40 am local time. The flight then departed for Amsterdam at 1.50 am.
Three hours after taking off from Changi Airport however, a cabin crew member named Najib reported to pilot Pantun Matondang that Munir, who was seated in seat number 40G, was ill.
A doctor, who was seated in seat number 1J attempted to assist him. Munir however was beyond help and died two hours before the flight landed in Amsterdam.
Although off-duty pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto was convicted of Munir’s murder in 2005 the alleged mastermind behind the assassination, former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy Muchdi Purwoprandjono, was later acquitted of all charges. Also implicated in the murder but never investigated was former BIN chief AM Hendropriyono. Hendropriyono, a close ally of Megawati Sukarnoputri – the chairperson of President Joko Widodo’s ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) – was cited in US diplomatic cables leaked in 2011 as being involved in the planning of Munir’s murder.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Kasus Pembunuhan Munir Terancam Ditutup karena Kedaluwarsa”.]