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Jakarta Post

Munir document could lead to new investigation

  • Margareth S. Aritonang and Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, October 12, 2016   /  07:34 am
Munir document could lead to new investigation Suciwati, the widow of slain human rights activist Munir (right), and human rights activist Maria Sumarsih hold masks of Munir's face during the hearing at the Central Information Commission (KIP) on Oct. 10. In the ruling, KIP ordered the government to disclose all related information regarding the investigation report by a fact-finding team into Munir's murder. (Antara/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

The possible disclosure of a document detailing the facts surrounding the 2004 murder of human rights defender Munir Said Thalib could lead to a new investigation into any individuals or officials involved in the killing.

Former members of a fact-finding team into Munir’s murder confirmed the document mentions the names of state officials allegedly responsible for planning the murder.

However, confusion over the whereabouts of the confidential report has created tension between human rights campaigners and the State Secretariat, which is in charge of the government’s administrative documents.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the State Secretariat’s deputy for public relations, Masrokhan, insisted his office had no information about the fate of the report. “Thus, it is impossible for the State Secretariat to disclose a document that we know nothing about,” he said in a press statement.

But that statement failed to discourage Munir’s supporters.

Activist Usman Hamid still clearly remembered the day when he and his colleagues from the government-sanctioned fact-finding team met then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in June 2005.

Usman described how he and other former team members, including Mashudi Hanafi, Asmara Nababan and Amiruddin Al Rahab, among others, handed a report detailing the findings of their investigation into Munir’s killing to Yudhoyono, who was at that time accompanied by his full team of aides, including, among others, then coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister Widodo Adi Sutjipto, then National Police chief Da’i Bachtiar and then state secretary Sudi Silalahi.

In a written statement to the Central Information Commission (KIP) Sudi himself confirmed his knowledge of the report as he, as then chief of the State Secretariat, was the one who had received it.

“The State Secretariat’s denial of knowledge of the whereabouts of the report is really baseless,” Usman said on Tuesday to respond to the State Secretariat’s insistent refusal to disclose the investigation’s findings as ordered by a recent KIP writ.

“The government can no longer ignore the case. Several former team members, including Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, are currently serving in the government. President [Joko] Jokowi [Widodo] can consult them on the existence as well as the content of the report.”

A KIP hearing on Monday ruled that the investigation report was public information and consequently ordered the State Secretariat to immediately release the document to the public by any means of communication it utilized, either electronically or non-electronically.

The KIP was sure that all documents, including the report on Munir’s murder, were still under the roof of the State Secretariat.

The KIP issued its writ following a request jointly filed by Munir’s widow Suciwati, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) in April this year.

They demanded disclosure of the information contained in the report after years of pursuing a disappointing legal process to find the mastermind behind Munir’s death.

Kontras coordinator Haris Azhar said Munir’s supporters had demanded a public exposé of the report for many years, even when Yudhoyono was still in office. They waited and watched over ongoing legal processes involving the case, which eventually resulted in the acquittals of certain figures believed to have had roles in killing Munir.

Munir died in September 2004 of arsenic poisoning during a Garuda Indonesia flight to the Netherlands. He was known for speaking out against human rights violations by the military.

The fact-finding team found the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) had a role in the murder, although it did not definitely conclude that BIN as an institution committed the crime. The team, however, identified individuals in BIN who played key roles. Among them were the then BIN chief AM Hendropriyono, who was a member of Jokowi’s presidential campaign team, and his deputy Muchdi Purwoprandjono.

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