Indonesian police have arrested the former deputy head of the National
Intelligence Agency for involvement in the 2004 murder of prominent
activist Munir Thalib. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.
former deputy head of Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency and
former head of the military's special forces, Muchdi Purwopranjono,
surrendered to police Thursday night.
Police spokesman Abubakar
says Muchdi will be charged with premeditated murder for the poisoning
death of prominent activist Munir Thalib.
"Yesterday he was
summoned, he came with his lawyer and his status is already a suspect,
and he will be charged with premeditated murder," he said.
Munir died of arsenic poisoning while on a flight to Amsterdam with the nation's flag carrier Garuda in September 2004.
long and controversial investigation into his murder has been seen as a
test of how serious the government is about upholding the rule of law
even when it may include state agencies such as the National
Hendardi, a human rights lawyer, lauded the
arrest of Muchdi, saying it is will help unravel what many believe is
the conspiracy behind Munir's murder.
"This is just the
beginning to see who the real actors are behind this case - the actor
who planned it, the actor who carried it out, and the actor who gave
the orders," he said.
Munir angered Indonesia's military and
intelligence agency by exposing systematic human right abuses in the
country, most especially in Aceh and Papua provinces.
At the time of Munir's murder, Muchdi was the deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency responsible for covert operations.
December 2005, Pollycarpus Priyanto, a Garuda pilot and alleged member
of the intelligence agency, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his
role in Munir's murder.
But in October 2006, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, citing insufficient evidence.
case was reopened by the Supreme Court for a judicial review and he
was sentenced again in January to 20 years in prison.
rights lawyer Hendardi says pressure from the government of President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Indonesian people kept Munir's case
"We can give appreciation to President Yudhoyono because
the case is still moving forward, which is because of the political
will from the government, and also because of the tremendous pressure
from the people," he said.
The National Intelligence Agency denies any links to Pollycarpus or to Munir's murder.