Prosecutors Seek Munir Murder Case Review

JAKARTA ~ State prosecutors said this week they would file fresh evidence in the murder case of a prominent activist and ask that an overturned conviction be reviewed by the country’s top court.

Pollycarpus Priyanto, a pilot accused of links to Indonesia’s powerful intelligence agency BIN, was sentenced to 14 years for poisoning Munir Said Thalib on a flight with national carrier Garuda to Amsterdam in 2004.

His conviction, however, was overturned last year and he was instead handed a two-year jail term for falsifying a document, which allowed him to be released.

Priyanto, who was off-duty when he allegedly carried out the poisoning, has been the only person sentenced over the high-profile crime.

But in an unusual move, the Attorney General’s Office was to present new evidence to the Central Jakarta District Court by Friday which would accept and pass on a request for the Supreme Court to review its decision, said spokesman Thomson Siagian.

“State prosecutors are confident that the new evidence will be proven in court,” Siagian told reporters.

Siagian refused to elaborate saying details would be revealed in court.

John Muhammad, a lawyer with Kontras, a human rights organization founded by Munir, said it was not clear yet whether the “extraordinary” request could be accepted by the court.

Under Indonesian procedural law, defendants have the right to submit fresh evidence and ask that the Supreme Court review its decision, but the law does not stipulate whether prosecutors can also do so.

It was not clear what the review was meant to achieve as the principle of double jeopardy – where a person cannot be charged for the same crime twice – applies under Indonesian law.

Muhammad Assegaf, one of Priyanto’s lawyers, said the attorney general had no right to demand a review.

“Our law clearly states that those who hold the right to file a demand for a case review are the defendants … A case review is a means of protecting the rights of individuals and not those of institutions,” he said.

The overturning of Priyanto’s conviction outraged human rights activists.

Police and the government have come under pressure to find the murderer amid claims of a cover-up in the original investigation because of links to BIN.

Munir made powerful enemies through his work during and after the rule of former president Suharto, which ended in 1998, exposing rights abuses including incidents allegedly involving the military.

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