Former Spy Cleared of Activist’s Murder

JAKARTA ~ A court has cleared the former deputy head of the country’s spy agency of masterminding the 2004 poisoning of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

“Muchdi Purwopranjono cannot be proved legally and convincingly to have ordered the murder of Munir,” judge Suharto said on Wednesday.

“He should be removed from detention immediately,” he said.

Munir’s widow Suciwati said that she was disappointed by the court’s decision.

“It’s painful. It shows that the bad guys have won … we’ll fight on,” Suciwati said. “Today we move one step back. But we’ll move 10 steps forward. We have to stand united to fight for justice,” she added.

Prosecutors had been seeking a 15-year jail term for the former State Intelligence Agency deputy chief, accusing him of ordering Munir to be poisoned with arsenic as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam via Singapore in September 2004.

Purwopranjono was the first military official to face trial over the murder, which activists have long alleged was the work of the intelligence community’s senior officers.

Former Garuda boss Indra Setiawan and pilot Pollycarpus Priyanto have been given jail sentences previously for conspiracy to murder.

Munir, who was 38 when he was killed, was a prominent critic of military human rights abuses and provided legal counsel to victims of state violence during former dictator Suharto’s 32-year rule.

After the decision, the National Commission of Human Rights demanded that the authorities gather more evidence to bring Munir’s killers to justice.

“The Munir case is far from over. The police need to find more evidence and the prosecutors have to bring this case back to the court,” commission head Ifdhal Kasim said.

“Many witnesses, especially from BIN (the State Intelligence Agency), have retracted from being witnesses,” he said.

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