Garuda Indonesia's continuing public relations nightmare surrounding the mysterious death of Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib took several interesting turns before Indonesia's Courts in late January 2008. Munir died September 7, 2004, while flying from Jakarta to Amsterdam on the Airline.
Pollycarpus Gets 20 Years
In a judicial review of the murder case against the former Garuda pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday, January 25, 2008, with the Court finding him guilty of premeditated murder and the falsification of documents.
The Head of the Law Department of the Indonesian Supreme Court, Nurhadi, told Tempo Interaktif that "this decision approved the judicial review requested by the Public Prosecutor from the National Court in Jakarta."
The panel of 5 judges who found against Pollycarpus was headed by Chief Justice Bagir Manan, Indonesia's top jurist who Pollycarpus once bragged during a wire-tapped phone conversation with former Garuda boss Indra Setiawan as certain to free him of all charges in connection with the death of the activist.
In an earlier legal proceeding Pollycarpus was sentenced to 14 year prison sentence, a sentence that was later reduced to only 2 years for document forgery when the courts ruled his murder conviction was incorrect due to a lack of evidence.
The latest decision reviewed the earlier decisions and considered new evidence submitted by prosecutors in allowing the panel to arrive at their guilty sentence and the substantially stiffer sentence of 20 years.
One of the ruling judges said the motive behind the murder remains unclear, but the suspicion is that Munir was killed for his political activities.
During the course of the various trials, suggestions were repeatedly made that Pollycarpus was in the employment of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN). To date, no member of the State Intelligence Board has been brought to court in connection with Munir's murder.
The Coordinator of the Committee for Missing Persons and the Victims of Violence (KONTRAS), Usman Hamid called for the Munir case to continue in order that those behind the plot can be brought to justice.
Former Garuda CEO Facing 1.5 Years in Prison
In a related case, Indra Setiawan, the former CEO of Garuda Indonesia is facing a 1.5 year prison sentence is judges accept demands made by State Prosecutors for his supporting role in the death of Munir.
Public Prosecutor Didif Farkhan told the court that the evidence is clear that Setiawan was closely involved in assigning Pollycarpus a place on the fateful flight during which the human rights activist died in 2004.
Prosecutors point to a letter from BIN sent to Garuda requesting Pollycarpus’ presence on the flight. That letter, according to Setiawan, was subsequently lost in a car burglary from a parking lot at a Jakarta hotel. "This proves that Indra clearly knew of an intelligence operation on the flight used by Munir," the Prosecutor told the Court.
Prosecutors also find as legally incriminating the fact that assignment letters for Pollycarpus and letters from BIN were personally kept by Setiawan and not placed in the company files of the Airline as would be the case in matters involving normal staff assignments.
The trial of the former Garuda CEO continues.
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