Ex-Garuda Chief’s Murder Case to Go Ahead

JAKARTA ~ A court ruled on Wednesday that the trial of a former head of national carrier Garuda in connection with the murder of a prominent human rights activist should go ahead.

State prosecutors have presented in hearings over the past few weeks their indictment against Indra Setiawan, who is accused of being an accessory to the premeditated murder of Munir Said Thalib in September 2004.

The charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail.

Setiawan’s defense team has also presented a rebuttal to the Central Jakarta District Court, arguing that the substance of the case should not go ahead.

But the head of the panel of judges hearing the case, Heru Pramono, said the defense’s objection “had no legal basis and should be rejected in its entirety,” meaning that the case satisfies administrative and procedural requirements and will go ahead.

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

Munir was furtively poisoned at some stage as he travelled from Jakarta to Singapore and then Amsterdam, where he was to undertake post-graduate studies.

Priyanto, who is accused of links to Indonesia’s intelligence agency, travelled off-duty on the same Singapore-bound flight.

Setiawan’s legal team had argued that the fact that Priyanto was acquitted meant there was no prime suspect to tie Setiawan, former chief executive officer of Garuda, to the crime.

“In the charges there is no explanation as to how Pollycarpus supposedly killed Munir, so how can my client be accused of assisting in the murder?” Setiawan’s lawyer Antawirya J. Dipodiputro told reporters after the decision.

Judge Pramono said the trial would resume on November 7 with the examination of witnesses for the prosecution – Priyanto, Munir’s widow Suciwati and two other ex-Garuda workers, Rohainil Aini and Ramelgia Anwar.

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