Suwarjono, Jakarta – TNI (armed forces) chief Endriartono Sutarto is asking that the death of human rights activist Munir not be turned into a political issue. Munir’s case is a criminal one and must be resolved legally.
“Don’t let it be blown with endless speculations to the point that the legal case itself cannot be resolved. Essentially, if it was a criminal act which caused the death of the late Munir and it is turned into something else it will not resolve the basic issue”, said Sutarto.
This was conveyed by Sutarto during a break in the opening of the Indo Defence 2004 Expo and Forum at the Jakarta International Expo grounds in Jakarta on Wednesday November 24.
Sutarto gave the example of the Timika case1 as an experience which needs to be a reference in resolving the Munir case. The Timika case said Sutarto, which was purely a criminal act of murder was then directed towards the involvement of the TNI as an institution.
“If we don’t act quickly it is certain that it will be used later to corner the TNI. By taking [the appropriate] legal steps, a legal resolution, the case will be resolved”, he said.
Meanwhile the head of the TNI’s information center, Major-General Sjafrie Syamsoeddin, denied that any TNI officers were involved in the threats against Munir’s family. “I hold the conviction that TNI officers have a sense of morality. And the morality of the TNI would not extend to doing this”, he said.
What is important at the moment explained Syamsoeddin, is to go forward with the legal investigation into Munir’s death. The TNI he said, fully supports such an investigation.
“Don’t enter into a polemic over the threats which are being taken up at the moment because right now [the case] is being turned towards issues which are not accountable, slander and counter slander”, said Syamsoeddin. (iy)
1. In August 2003 two American school teachers and an Indonesian national were killed in an ambush in Timika, West Papua. It was widely believed that the military was behind the attack although an investigation by the FBI which human rights groups called a “white-wash” later exonerated the military instead blaming rouge elements of the Free Papua Movement.
[Translated by James Balowski.]