About 40,000 feet above Romania on Sept. 7, 2004, Indonesia’s leading human rights lawyer, Munir Said Thalib, was found dead in his seat aboard a Garuda Indonesia flight heading for Amsterdam.
The iconic human rights fighter, better known as Munir, had felt ill since the plane took off from Changi Airport in Singapore. He had complained to a flight attendant of diarrhea and a nagging stomach ache and received treatment from a cardiac surgeon who was on the same flight. An autopsy later determined the cause of Munir’s death was arsenic poisoning.
The murder case exposed serious flaws in Indonesia’s justice system. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, an off-duty Garuda pilot who met and talked to Munir in Singapore, was later convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison. In fact he only served eight years of his sentence and regained his freedom late in November 2014.