New Suspects Named in Munir Case

JAKARTA ~ Police have named two new suspects in the case of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, who was murdered on a Garuda flight.

Police chief Sutanto told reporters two Garuda Indonesia executives were under investigation in connection with the case of Munir, whose drink was laced with arsenic on a September 2004 flight from Singapore to Amsterdam.

Sutanto said the two, identified only by their initials, IS and R, were being investigated over the falsification of documents for a Garuda pilot whose conviction for the Munir’s murder was overturned.

Munir, who was 38 when he died, had made many powerful enemies through his work during and after the rule of dictator Suharto, which ended in May 1998.

“There may be other names to be listed as suspects in the case, in addition to the two names announced by the police chief on Tuesday,” said national police spokesman Sisno Adiwinoto said on Wednesday.

Rights activists, who have accused the government and the police of dragging their feet in investigating the case because intelligence officers were believed to be behind the murder, protested the announcement.

“What exactly are the developments that the police have made? Are the two (new) suspects (to be tried) for murder or falsifying documents?” said activist Usman Hamid from Kontras, the organization Munir represented.

“If that’s the only (new suspects) that the police can come up with, then their work the past two years has been in vain,” said Munir’s widow, Suciwati.

The Supreme Court quashed Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto’s 14-year conviction in the case and he was instead handed a two-year jail term for falsifying a document.

He was released from prison in December after receiving three months’ remission.

The team appointed to probe the murder in December 2004 has already completed an unpublished report that alleged Priyanto had links to the powerful national intelligence agency.

On March 28, Philips Alston, a United Nation special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, filed a report on the Munir case to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Three senior intelligence officers named in his report had refused to be interviewed by the fact-finding team and failed to provide documents needed for further investigation.

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