Munir’s family sues Garuda Airlines for 13 billion rupiah

Tempo Interactive – September 26, 2006
Suciwati listens to proceedings in suit against PT Garuda Indonesia (Liputan 6)
Suciwati listens to proceedings in suit against PT Garuda Indonesia (Liputan 6)

Tito Sianipar, Jakarta – Munir’s widow, Suciwati, has filed a lawsuit against PT Garuda Indonesia Airlines for 13 billion rupiah. The civil lawsuit was heard at the Central Jakarta District Court yesterday.

One of Suciwati’s lawyers, Asvinawati, said that the lawsuit was filed because of Garuda’s lack of professionalism which resulted in Munir’s death aboard a Jakarta-Singapore-Amsterdam flight on September 6-7, 2004. “A lack of professionalism causing the death of a passenger is a fatal error”, said Asvinawati at the Central Jakarta State Court on Monday September 25 (Asvinawati is also the director of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundations).

Suciwati is suing Garuda for 4 billion rupiah in material damages calculated from Munir’s potential earnings until retirement, the cost for Munir’s planed and paid for study at Utrecht University in Holland and the cost of his burial. Suciwati is also suing Garuda for non-material damages amounting to 9,000,700,400 rupiah, a figure taken from the flight number of Munir’s flight from Jakarta to the Netherlands, GA-974.

Suciwati said that the lawsuit was filed in order increase public awareness. “As consumers we must be respected by companies”, she said. Suciwati also reminded the public that Garuda is a state-owned enterprise that receives funds from the state budget. “We as members of the public pay for Garuda, but (Garuda) does not provide a good service. Moreover it continues to make losses”, she said. Added to this is the fact that Munir’s murder took place aboard a Garuda flight.

Suciwati is suing 10 parties that are being held to be involved in or liable for Munir’s death: the Garuda Airlines management; former Garuda executive director Indra Setiawan; the vice president for corporate security Ramelgia Anwar; flight operations support officer Rohainil Aini; pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto (who has already been jailed for 14 for the murder) and five cabin crew members – Yuti Susmiati, Oedi Irianto, Brahmanie Hastawati, Pantun Matondang and Madjij Radjab Nasution.

The defendants are considered to have broken the law by failing to fulfil their responsibilities to guarantee the safety of passengers and for providing an unprofessional service. Suciwati is also submitting the legal fact that following Munir’s murder, Garuda actually covered up evidence and failed to provide prompt and correct information. The transfer of Munir from an economy class seat to a business class seat is also considered to be negligence on Garuda’s part.

The panel of judges presided over by Andriani Nurdin postponed the hearing in order for Suciwati’s lawyers resolve some technical issues with the suit. Garuda’s attorneys meanwhile has been asked to fulfil the requirements to act as power of attorney for the 10 defendants. “The hearing will be continued in two weeks”, said Judge Nurdin.

[Translated by James Balowski.]