Sorong treason trial hearing postponed after prosecutor fails to present witnesses

Tabloid JUBI – March 12, 2020
The four Papuan activists seated in Sorong District Court – March 12, 2020 (Suara Papua)

Jayapura – The public prosecutor failed to present any witnesses during the fourth court hearing at the Sorong District Court on March 12 in a case related to anti-racist protest in Papua. The hearing was marked by a protest action by activists from the Justice Concern Forum for Monkeys who stood in front of the court building covering their mouths with masking tape.

The Sorong District Court is currently examining a case involving four Papuan activists who took part in anti-racism rallies which took place in Sorong city, Papua, on September 17-18 last year.

The four activists, who are now defendants facing charges of treason, are Yoseph Laurens Syufi alias Siway Bofit, Ethus Paulus Miwak Kareth, Manase Baho and Rianto Ruruk alias Herman Sabo. They were arrested for bringing the Morning Star independence flag to the anti-racism rallies.

On March 5, the public prosecutor indicted them under Article 110 Paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) and Article 14 Paragraph (1) of Law Number 1/1946 on Criminal Regulations for producing fake news in order to incite a riot.

During the hearing on Thursday, the panel of judges presided over by Judge Willem Marco Erari along with judges Donald F Sopacua and Dedy l Sahusilawane should have examined witnesses presented by the prosecution.

But the prosecutor, Putu Sastra Adi Wicaksana, failed to present any witnesses. Judge Erari eventually postponed the examination of witnesses until the following hearing next week. Erari asked the prosecutor to confirm that the witnesses would be present so that the next hearing would proceed on schedule.

The lawyer representing the four defendants, Max Souisa, said he hopes that the examination of witnesses can be done next week. If it is postponed again, Souisa said he would insist that the panel of judges confirm that the trial will proceed according to schedule.

“The principle of a trail is that it’s easy, fast and simple. We hope that the prosecution will keep its promise at the next hearing. If next week the prosecution does not keep its promise, we as their lawyers will demand fulfillment of the prosecutor’s promise to present the witnesses”, said Souisa when speaking in Sorong on Thursday.

The youths and students from the Justice Concern Forum for Monkeys meanwhile held a silent action in front of the courthouse in which they unfurled banners and handed out leaflets.

Action coordinator Natalis Yewen said that the demonstration was held to show their support for the four defendants. Yewen said that the silent action represented the wishes of all Papuan people who still feel offended by the racist slurs against Papuan students in the East Java provincial capital of Surabaya on August 16, 2019.

Yewen hopes that the silent action will be considered by law enforcement officials in prosecuting the four defendants. According to Yewen, the Papuan people’s sense of justice has been further injured by the light sentences handed down against those who make the racist slurs against the Papuan students in Surabaya.

On February 3, a panel of judges at the Surabaya District Court sentenced Tri Susanti alias Susi, who was charged with making the racist remarks, to seven months jail.

Meanwhile the other defendant in the case, Syamsul Arifin, was sentenced to five months jail on January 30. “We think that the Surabaya District Court’s sentence against the two perpetrator of racism in Surabaya was very unjust”, said Yewen.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jaksa gagal hadirkan saksi, sidang 4 terdakwa makar di Sorong ditunda – JUBI”.]