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Muchdiâ??s acquittal, â??worst New Year giftâ??

Sumber: THEJAKARTAPOST.COM | Tgl terbit: Jumat, 02 Januari 2009

Abdul Khalik and Dian Kuswandini ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Fri, 01/02/2009 8:36 AM  |  Headlines

The acquittal of former top spy Maj. Gen. (ret) Muchdi Purwopranjono of all charges in the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib has incensed rights activists and observers.

They said the verdict, handed down Wednesday by the South Jakarta District Court, insulted the people’s sense of justice and gave credence to public perception that the country’s legal system and law enforcers, including police, prosecutors and judges, lacked credibility.

“It is the worst New Year’s gift from law enforcers to the people in their struggle for justice and human rights,” rights group Pijar Indonesia said Thursday in a statement.

“The verdict threatens the country’s human rights defenders by implying you can walk away after killing them,” it added.

The court decision has buried the truth of the mystery behind Munir’s murder, in which the judiciary was expected to uncover a “political conspiracy” involving the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Pijar said.

Setara Institute executive director Hendardi said the ruling preserved the legal impunity of certain officers in Indonesia, particularly military generals accused of rights abuses.

“We can see clearly the judges were under political pressure from those who wanted the case closed,” he said.

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, who was a witness during the trial’s last hearing, expressed shock at the verdict, saying she and Munir’s supporters would immediately go to the National Police headquarters and the Attorney General’s Office to discuss the next steps to take.

“I have already lost my husband, and now I lost justice. The outcome is being watched by the international community to see how seriously Indonesia enforces the rule of law,” she said, her voice quivering with emotion.

“This is very painful. Something that I feared has now come to pass. Today’s ruling proves that Indonesian justice still sides with human rights abusers.”

Usman Hamid, a prominent rights activist and a close friend of Munir’s, slammed the “poor prosecution” as one of the reasons for Muchdi’s acquittal.

He cited prosecutors’ failure to present tapped conversations between Muchdi and Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder, during the trial to strengthen their case against the defendant.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t present the voice records. We witnessed how scared the prosecutors were during the trials,” said Usman, who chairs the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), founded by Munir.

Kontras also expressed disappointment at prosecutors’ failure to view the Munir case as a conspiracy, thus resulting in a missing link between Pollycarpus and Muchdi.

This turned the focus of the investigation on Muchdi as an individual, particularly his motive for murdering Munir, thus blocking out the alleged involvement of other suspects, Kontras said.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would summon National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji for clarification of the case and verdict.

Muchdi, a former BIN deputy chief, was released from detention on Wednesday evening, and later held a charity event to show his gratitude for the verdict.

“(The ruling) is a present for Indonesia,” he said.

Muchdi, currently deputy chairman of the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), has long claimed he was a “victim of foreign intervention” in the Munir case.

His lawyer, Wirawan Adnan, said the defense team would sue Suciwati, Usman and other activists, including Hendardi and Poengky Indarti, for dragging Muchdi into the case.



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