No Basis for Review of Munir Case: Lawyers

JAKARTA ~ Lawyers for a Garuda Indonesia pilot who was accused of murdering a prominent activist argued this week that state prosecutors attempting to reopen the case had no legal basis to do so.

Munir Said Thalib was poisoned with arsenic as he traveled from Jakarta to Amsterdam in September 2004. Pollycarpus Priyanto had his conviction for the murder overturned by the Supreme Court last year, but state prosecutors have been seeking to have that decision reviewed.

Prosecutors have presented a dossier of new evidence to a district court, which has heard testimony from witnesses and will decide whether it can pass the request on to the top court.

Akhmad Jazuli, one of Priyanto’s lawyers, cited four legal experts in his argument on Wednesday, stating that prosecutors “do not have the right to request a judicial review.” The experts also argued that witness testimony cannot be accepted as new evidence.

Jazuli also claimed that an apparently incriminating conversation between Priyanto and Indra Setiawan, a former head of Garuda who is in custody expected to be charged in relation to the murder, was recorded illegally.

“Phone-tapping can only be carried out in relation to terrorism and corruption cases,” he said.

In the conversation, Priyanto assured Setiawan he would be freed as state officials were “on their side”.

Munir, who died aged 38, was a dynamic activist who provided legal counsel for victims of officially-sanctioned violence during president Suharto’s 32-year rule that ended in 1998.

His murder case has drawn widespread international attention and is seen as a litmus test of how well the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is breaking with Suharto’s era of impunity.

Priyanto is accused of links to the state intelligence agency, whose officials Munir supporters claim masterminded the murder.

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