Three Soldiers Jailed for Papua Torture

JAYAPURA

A court martial has jailed three Indonesian soldiers for up to 10 months for abuse and insubordination after graphic video footage showed them torturing civilians in restive Papua.

The relatively light sentences prompted anger among campaigners, who accuse the Indonesian military of acting with brutal impunity against the indigenous Melanesian majority in the far-eastern province of Papua.

The military tribunal found them guilty on Monday of abuse and disobeying orders and sentenced Second Sergeant Irwan Rizkiyanto to 10 months in jail, First Private Yakson Agu to nine months and First Private Tamrin Mahan Giri to eight months.

In footage posted on YouTube last year, the soldiers were seen applying a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and threatening another with a knife as they interrogated them about the location of a weapons cache.

In a videoed statement, victim Tunaliwor Kiwo said he thought he was going to die during two days of torture in which he was repeatedly beaten, suffocated, burned with cigarettes and cut with a razor.

“They caught two men who had no identification documents and took them to a military post. The men suffered torture there,” chief judge Lieutenant-Colonel Adil Karokaro told the tribunal in Papua’s provincial capital, Jayapura.

“The victims had their hands and legs bound and their faces stepped on. One victim had his genitals burnt with a burning stick and he was also suffocated with a plastic bag,” Karokaro said.

The soldiers appeared solemn at their separate tribunals. They had previously confessed to their crimes and said they regretted their actions.

The United States has said it was “monitoring” the court martial after human rights activists criticised President Barack Obama’s decision last year to re-open military links with Indonesia’s notorious special forces.

Indonesia has no law against torture. The charge of insubordination carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in jail.

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment

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