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Former Indonesian Pilot Sentenced for Killing Human Rights Activist


Indonesia's Supreme Court has sentenced a former pilot of the state-owned airline to 20 years in prison for killing a prominent human rights activist in 2004. Chad Bouchard reports from Jakarta.

The ex-pilot is Pollycarpus Pryianto. Indonesia's Supreme Court sentenced him Friday to 20 years in prison for poisoning Munir Said Thalib before Munir boarded a Garuda Airlines flight bound for Amsterdam in September 2004.

Munir, who died on the flight, was an outspoken activist who gave legal advice to victims of human rights abuses under former president Suharto's brutal regime.

Pollycarpus was originally found guilty of the murder by a lower court, and sentenced to 14 years, but the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2006. The conviction was reinstated after prosecutors filed new evidence last year suggesting that Pollycarpus served Munir a drink laced with poison at Singapore's Changi airport.

John Muhammad of the Solidarity Action Committee for Munir says Friday's sentence is a good first step toward justice.

He says the decision by the Supreme Court is a basis to go forward. He says human rights activists now have the key to pursue further revelations in the Munir case.

John says evidence in the case has suggested links between Pollycarpus and the state intelligence agency.

He says the Munir case is not only very important to human rights activists, but also for reformation in Indonesia, because it is an opportunity to clean up the intelligence service.

Also on Friday, Indonesian prosecutors said they will seek an 18-month jail sentence for the former head of Garuda Airlines for his role in the murder.