Jakarta – The families of the victims of the Paniai massacre are disappointed with the panel of judges which handed down a verdict of not guilty against retired Infantry Major Isak Sattu at the Makassar District Court in South Sulawesi.
Their attorney Yones Douw said that the verdict has legitimised the families' scepticism that they would not find justice through the human rights court saying that they were aware that right from the start that the Attorney General only indicted one defendant in the case, who on Thursday December 8 was declared not guilty.
"We the families of the four student who were killed and the 17 people injured rejected [the process] after the Attorney General declared only one suspect on the grounds that in the end the court would rule that the one suspect would be released. Our suspicions have now become a reality", said Douw in a written statement on Friday December 9.
Douw said that from the beginning there was minimal participation in the trial process by the families of the victims and civilian witness to the incident. According to Douw, the trial did not side with the victims. Therefore the families refused to testify at the trial.
"[They] refused to attend or testify at the Paniai case trial in Makassar because from the start the process did not side with the victims", he said.
Douw asserted that investigation process into the Paniai gross human rights violation cannot be said to be settled even though a trial has now been held.
The families of the victims are demanding that the investigation into the case be reopened. In this way they hope that all of the actors involved in the humanitarian crime can be indicted through legal channels and tried in court.
"For the families of the victims and the victims the Paniai gross human rights violation case has not been settled by the Indonesia in a fair and honest manner", he said.
"We the families of the victims and the victims of injuries continue to demand that the Indonesian state must reopen the investigation or reopen the documents on the Paniai gross human rights violation case", he said.
Earlier on Thursday the panel of judges at the Human Rights Court in Makassar handed down a sentence of not guilty against the sole defendant in the Paniai case, Isak Sattu.
In reading out their verdict the panel of judges took note of Article 191 Paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) and Law Number 26/2000 on Human Rights and related legislation.
"[We] hereby declare that retired Infantry Major Isak Sattu has not been proven legally and convincingly to have committed gross human rights violations as charged under the first and second indictments", said presiding Judge Sutisna on Thursday.
The Bloody Paniai incident occurred on December 8, 2014 when civilians were holding a protest action at the Karel Gobai Square in Enarotali, Paniai, over an assault by TNI (Indonesian military) officers on a local youth.
Four students were shot dead on the spot by a joint military force while one other parson died several months later after being treated in hospital.
In its investigation report, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) alleged that several people were involved in the incident. They were:
1. The commander of the 753/AVT Infantry Battalion Special Team (Timsus Yonif 753/AVT) at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
2. Members of the Yonif 753/AVT at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
3. The Paniai Liaison officer (Pabung) at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
4. The 753/AVT Battalion Commander (Danyon) at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014, through to July 2016.
5. The 753/AVT Company Commander (Danki) at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
6. The Timsus Yonif 753/AVT commander at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
7. The Nabire military police (POM) commander at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
8. The District Military Commander (Danramil) at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
9. Members of the Enarotali District Military Command at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
10. Yonif 753/AVT members at the time of the Paniai incident on December 7-8, 2014.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Keluarga Korban soal Vonis Bebas Paniai: Dugaan Kami Jadi Kenyataan".]