Garuda Exec Trial over Munir Murder

Former Garuda Executive, Staff on Trial over Munir Murder

JAKARTA ~ A former director and a senior staff member of flagship airline Garuda Indonesia are facing jail after being accused this week of involvement in the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Former Garuda director Indra Setiawan was accused by prosecutors of being an accessory to premeditated murder, a charge that carries up to 15 years in jail.

Munir, an outspoken critic of Indonesia’s military, died of arsenic poisoning while on board a Garuda flight to Amsterdam in 2004.

A former Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Priyanto, was originally found guilty of Munir’s murder but had his conviction quashed by the Supreme Court last year.

Prosecutor Noor Rachmad accused Setiawan in court on Tuesday of being an accessory to the “intentional and premeditated murder of another person.”

In his testimony at Priyanto’s original murder trial, Setiawan said that in 2004 he received a letter from a senior officer at Indonesia’s intelligence agency requesting Garuda make Priyanto a corporate security officer on Munir’s flight from the national capital Jakarta to the Netherlands via Singapore.

Rohainil Aini, a former secretary to Garuda’s chief Airbus aircraft pilot, also faced the same court on Tuesday in a separate trial over the murder.

Prosecutor Poltak Manulang accused Aini of being an accessory to the murder as well as issuing a falsified document.

“Had (Aini) not made the false document, then Polly would not have flown on that Garuda flight,” Manulang said, referring to Priyanto.

The internal Garuda document assigned Priyanto to travel on Munir’s flight.

Setiawan’s lawyer, Antawirya Widjaja, questioned to prosecution’s reliance on the assumption that Priyanto was the murderer.

“Has the prosecutor obtained legal certainty that Pollycarpus was the premeditated murderer … referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict on 3 October, 2006, which decided to free Pollycarpus,” Widjaja was reported as saying by Indonesian news website Okezone.

Munir died on board the second leg of the September 2004 Garuda flight a few hours before reaching Amsterdam. An autopsy by Dutch authorities found he had ingested a large amount of arsenic, leading police to suspect he had been poisoned during his journey.

State prosecutors are currently seeking a judicial review into the overturning of Priyanto’s conviction.

The trials of both Aini and Setiawan have been adjourned until October 24 to hear responses from the prosecution.

Munir, who died at the age of 38, made high-profile enemies during and after the reign of former president Suharto.

The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform, has come under increasing pressure from activists to find and prosecute those behind Munir’s murder.

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