Police Seek US Help over Munir Death

JAKARTA ~ Police have said they will seek assistance from the United States to speed up their probe into murder of respected human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

National police chief General Sutanto said he was committed to solving Munir’s death.

“We are going seek technical assistance from the United States. We have contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and only need to bring evidence to their laboratory there,” Sutanto said told reporters in Jakarta.

Munir’s widow Suciwati held talks last month with acting US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs Scot Marciel on her husband’s murder case.

Marciel assured her that the US would continue to press for a full and effective investigation into her husband’s murder regardless of where that investigation may lead.

Munir was 38 when he was killed after his drink was laced with arsenic on a flight operated by Garuda Indonesia from Singapore to Amsterdam in September 2004.

A Garuda pilot with links to BIN, the Indonesian intelligence agency, was jailed for 14 years for the murder but the Supreme Court overturned his conviction earlier this month.

Human rights groups dismissed the court’s decision, saying the evidence against the pilot was overwhelming.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has refused to publish the final report and recommendations of his fact-finding team set up to investigate the murder.

His refusal came despite a deluge of requests, including from 68 US lawmakers who wrote to him last year expressing concern over the case.

Sutanto said his men were currently working to obtain more testimony from other witnesses, but gave no further details.

Judges originally said the pilot’s motive for the killing was to protect the Indonesian military and BIN.

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