Papua activist Victor Yeimo sentenced to 8 months, but treason charges unproven

Tribun Papua – May 6, 2023
Viktor Yeimo speaking to reporter outside Jayapura court following sentencing – May 5, 2023 (Tribun)

Putri Nurjannah Kurita, Sentani – The Jayapura District Court in Papua trying Victor Frederick Yeimo on charges of makar (treason, subversion, rebellion) sentenced him to eight months in prison on Friday May 5.

At the sentence hearing presided over by a panel of judges chaired by Mathius and members Andi Asmurf and Linn Carol Hamadi, the judges found Yeimo guilty of violating Article 155 Paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on expressing hostility, hatred or contempt towards the government.

In the first indictment, public prosecutor Achmad Kobarubun demanded that the court sentence Yeimo to three years in prison for violating Article 106 of the KUHP in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the 1st KUHP.

The prosecution also indicted Yeimo under four different articles in the 1st KUHP, namely Article 106 in conjunction with Article 55 Paragraph (1) of the 1st KUHP, Article 110 Paragraph (1), Article 110 Paragraph (2) and Article 160 in conjunction with Article 55.

Yeimo's lawyer Emmanuel Gobay from the Papua Law Enforcement and Human Rights Coalition (KPHHP) said that the prosecution had failed to prove the four indictments and one charged in the first indictment.

"The judges, based on jurisprudence from cases in the 1980s took the initiative to analyse the facts for themselves. Furthermore, based on the facts, the evidence, witnesses and the defendant's testimony, as well as expert [witnesses] and directives, they concluded that [Yeimo] was [only] proven [guilty of violating] Article 155 Paragraph (1) of the KUHP", he explained.

Furthermore, the judges' ruling did not provide an opportunity for the defendant to "consider" or state their response to the verdict. "What is certain is that the Coalition still has seven to 14 days to declare an opinion", he said.

"The four charges that have been viral on social media, that our client committed makar were unproven, that's what's important. Meaning that the reporting that was built was a public deception. The judges proved this in the trial", he added.

For Gobay this is a victory for his client and the Papuan people because all of the victims of racism that ended up being criminalised by the makar articles have now been proven innocent.

"There is another consideration, for us, the makar articles that are always used against Papuan figures and activists were not proven", he said.

The charges of makar against Yeimo were related to an anti-racism demonstration in Papua protesting against racist slurs directed against Papuan students at the Kamasan III Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, East Java, on August 16, 2019.

Yeimo was charged with makar because he was alleged to have organised the demonstrations that occurred in Jayapura on August 19 and 29, 2019. (*)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Sidang Kasus Makar di PN Jayapura, Victor Yeimo Divonis 8 Bulan Penjara".]