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Indonesian President Orders Deeper Investigation into Murder of Rights Activist

Indonesia's president has ordered an investigation into who might have been behind the murder of a prominent human rights activist. The order comes only days after the killer's conviction.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyno has ordered law enforcement officials to continue to investigate the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, to determine who orchestrated the killing.

The president gave the order two days after a Jakarta court convicted a former pilot with the national air carrier, Garuda Indonesia, of the murder.

But a government sanctioned fact-finding team had earlier concluded that the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, was also involved in the crime.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng says Mr. Yudhoyono's order was sweeping.

"The president instructed all government institutions and all government officials to cooperate and also to help in assisting the police investigate this case," said Mr. Mallarangeng.

The Jakarta district court on Tuesday sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to 14 years in prison, after finding that he slipped Mr. Munir a lethal dose of arsenic on a flight from Jakarta last year. The panel of judges says it believes there were others behind the killing.

Mr. Munir was a fearless campaigner for human rights who had repeatedly criticized the military, accusing it of rights violations, drug smuggling and illegal logging. The dead man's family and supporters believe that he was killed to silence his criticisms.

The judges said there was evidence that Pollycarpus had made frequent phone calls prior to the murder to a mobile phone registered to a former deputy chief of the BIN, Muchdi Purwopranjono.

Pollycarpus' lawyer, Wirawan Adnan, says he doubts the masterminds behind Mr. Munir's murder will ever be prosecuted.

"In all cases involving intelligence, I believe this was a perfect assassination," said Mr. Adnan. "We will never convict who's really behind all this."

But Mr. Yudhoyono came into office vowing to clean up government, and his spokesman says the president is determined to honor his word.

"The president also wants to make sure that our legal justice system, our criminal system is working, that they can work and function as it should be in investigating this case," added Mr. Mallarangeng.

Pollycarpus maintains his innocence, and says he will appeal his conviction.