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Indonesian Prosecutors Demand Life Sentence for Man Accused of Killing Rights Activist

Indonesian prosecutors are asking for a life sentence for the man charged with murdering human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Prosecutors say Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a pilot with the country's national airline, Garuda, ordered two flight attendants to put a massive dose of arsenic in Munir Said Thalib's orange juice while the rights activist was on a flight to Amsterdam.

The flight attendants face separate trials for their involvement in the September 2004 murder.

An autopsy showed Mr. Munir died from arsenic poisoning about two hours before the flight landed.

The prosecutors told a Jakarta court Thursday the Mr. Pollycarpus should be imprisoned for life for the murder.

A government-sanctioned fact-finding team investigating Mr. Munir's death concluded the State Intelligence Agency, or B.I.N., was involved in the murder, and suspected a connection between Mr. Pollycarpus and the B.I.N. However, the fact-finding team was disbanded in June and the investigation is being handled by police investigators.

The full fact-finding report was never released to the public, but the team's chairman, Asmara Nababan, said he believed Mr. Pollycarpus was being used as a scapegoat to cover up the B.I.N.'s involvement. No one from the agency has been publicly linked to the case.

Suciwati Munir, Mr. Munir's widow, says the results of the fact-finding team should be made public.

Mrs. Suciwati says a new investigation team should be established because she does not trust the police now involved in the investigation.

At the time of his death, Mr. Munir was the chairman of two human rights organizations in Indonesia and a leading democracy and human rights activist. Mr. Munir was a vocal critic of the dictator Suharto and continued to fight for democracy and human rights after Mr. Suharto's ouster in 1998.

The 38-year-old human rights leader had repeatedly criticized the military for violating human rights and for drug smuggling and illegal logging.

Mr. Munir's murder shocked the country and led to international condemnation.