Accessibility links

Report Implicates Indonesian Intelligence Agency in Murder of Prominent Rights Activist

  • Nancy-Amelia Collins

An Indonesian government-sanctioned team, examining the murder of a prominent human rights activist, has wrapped up its six-month investigation by accusing members of the National Intelligence Agency, BIN, of involvement in the crime.

The fact finding team says in a 100-page report that members of the intelligence agency known as BIN are believed to have helped plan the murder of the 38-year-old human rights activist, Munir Said Thalib.

Mr. Munir's death on a flight to Holland last September was originally blamed on a heart attack, but an autopsy later found he had died from massive arsenic poisoning.

Asmara Nababan is chairman of the fact finding team, which was created by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to assist the police investigation into the murder. He says the team was not able to ascertain the exact role the intelligence operatives might have played, or whether or not BIN was involved as an organization.

"In our report we point out several indications of the involvement of members of the BIN," he said. "We also note on our report that we cannot divine in the involvement on the level of individual or institutional."

Mr. Munir rose to prominence in 1998 while investigating the disappearance of pro-democracy activists - allegedly at the hand of Indonesia's notorious special forces, known as Kopassus. He died on board the Indonesian national carrier, Garuda, shortly before his flight landed in Amsterdam.

It is believed Mr. Munir was poisoned on board the flight itself. Two flight attendants who served his meals have been named as suspects, along with Garuda Airlines pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto. Mr. Pollycarpus had given up his business class seat to Mr. Munir on the Jakarta-Singapore leg of the flight.

The reason Mr. Pollycarpus, who was off duty, was on the flight to begin with has not been explained. His travel authorization, issued by Garuda's vice president of security Ramelgia Anwar, was typed and signed more than a week after Mr. Munir's death.

No one has yet been formally charged in the murder.

Fact finding team chairman Mr. Asmara says the intelligence agency was reluctant to give the team full access to important documents, and former BIN director Achmad Hendropriyono refused to be questioned.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File photo)
This, coupled by what the team says was poor performance by the police investigating the murder, has led to the recommendation that President Yudhoyono set up an investigative team with stronger powers.

"We will recommend that he should consider to set up a stronger team or commissions to follow up our findings and especially to have power to investigate BIN," he said.

The fact finding team, whose six-month mandate will expire Thursday, is scheduled to meet with the president Thursday evening to present its report.

XS
SM
MD
LG