Papuan defendants refuse to take part in court hearing

Kompas – August 2, 2006
Antonius Wamang escorted by police in handcuffs (Salam Papua)
Antonius Wamang escorted by police in handcuffs (Salam Papua)

Jakarta – The judges in the Central Jakarta District Court have had to postpone the court hearing into the shooting of three PT Freeport employees. In addition to the defense attorney not being ready, Antonius Wamang and his six colleagues are still refusing to be tried in Jakarta.

The hearing on Tuesday August 1 was already set to hear the defense speech or response to the charges by Wamang’s lawyer Johnson Pandjaitan. Wamang and his colleagues are being tried for the premeditated murder and mistreatment of three PT Freeport employees leading to their death and the injuring of several other people in August 2002.

Andriani Nurdin opened the hearing and the defendants were even ready and waiting in the spectator’s gallery. When the judge called the defendants forward however, Wamang remained motionless until a security officers forcibly brought him forward and sat him in the defendant’s chair.

It was at this moment that one of Wamang’s colleagues Reverend Ishak shouted that they had been deceived. All eyes turn to look at Ishak, and Wamang, who was already seated in the defendant’s chair, moved back to join his colleagues. Pandjaitan tried to pursuade the seven Timika residents to take part in the hearing but they continued to refuse.

In the end the hearing was suspended for 30 minutes in order for Pandjaitan to speak with the defendants. The defendants however stood fast and remained seated in the spectator’s gallery. When the judge asked who was ready to come forward to the defendant’s seat the seven remained silent. Likewise when the judge asked about their health. Finally the judge postponed the hearing until October 8.

Pandjaitan said that his clients were not refusing to face trial but are only asking that the court hearing be moved to the Timika District Court. (ANA)

[Translated by James Balowski.]