Jayapura – The court hearing at the Jayapura State Court on Monday May 23 in the case of Filep Karma and Yusack Pakage who are charged with raising of the Morning Star Flag was marred when defense lawyers refused to speak then walked out of the court room.
Prior to the hearing, defense lawyer Paskalis Letsoin and Piter L were sent a dog’s head with the writing: “Paskalis/Piter/This is an example of your head”. The sender said they were a citizen of NKRI1. The head was place in front of the door of the Papuan Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices on Jalan Gerilyawan in Abepura.
Wearing togas and head bands with the writing “anti-discrimination”, the team of five defense lawyers brought the head to the court house on Jalan Raya Abepura. Letsoin and Piter along with three other lawyers are defending a case involving the raising of the Morning Star Flag on December 1, 2004.
According to Paskalis, it was an act of intimidation against advocates in Papua. “The person who put the dog’s head [in front of my office] doesn’t understand an advocate’s work. In defending a case, an advocate never differentiates between political interests and never workers for racial discrimination. It up to them if some people [want to] believe we are doing work which is contrary to the interests of NKRI”, he said.
He said that they had reported the incident to the Jayapura municipal police on Monday morning. Separately, police chief commissioner Paulus Waterpauw who was contacted by Sinar Harapan said that they are currently investigating the case and a report is being written. As an anticipatory measure, they will be providing security to the defense lawyers.
When asked about Pieter’s statement that it was an act of intimidation and was engineered along with the May 10 incident2 at the Jayapura State Court Waterpauw declined to answer on the grounds that he had only just taken office.
The court session itself meanwhile was marred when defense lawyers covered their mouths in protest. The incident occurred when the presiding judge Chief Justice Ikhsan reprimanded the defense lawyers for wearing head bands with the writing anti-discrimination. In response they immediately stood and handed out a written defense to the judge, the public prosecutor and the defendant Karma. They then left the hearing uttering the words “thank you Mr Judge”.
A similar incident occurred during the hearing of the defendant Pakage. The defendant’s lawyer, Paskalis, said that Monday’s hearing should hear the defense speech. “It is pointless for us to conduct a defense no mater how good it is if the panel of judges’ attitude is pre-judgmental and subjective with regard to the two defendants”.
The next hearing will he held on Thursday May 26 to hear the judges’ verdict. The public prosecutor has demanded a sentence five years and six months jail for the defendants Karma and Pakage. (ded)
1. NKRI – Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. A term which is often used in the context of nationalism and the desire to maintain the integrity of the Indonesian nation.
2. May 10 incident – On May 10 a crowd that had gathered at the court house to support the defendants clashed with police. Scores of people were seriously injured and a number of high ranking police officers sacked or transferred for the way the handled the situation.
[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski.]