INDONESIAN prosecutors formally charged a former top intelligence official yesterday with the murder of a prominent rights activist who died of arsenic poisoning during a flight to the Netherlands in 2004.
Prosecutors said Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a former deputy chief of Indonesia’s National Intelligence Agency (BIN), had abused his powers and assigned an agent to poison Munir Thalib, an outspoken critic of the country’s military. A former pilot of national carrier Garuda, Pollycarpus Priyanto, has been sentenced to 20 years for serving Munir a poison-laced drink while in transit in Singapore’s Changi airport. The case has been regarded as a key test of the government’s determination to uphold the rule of law, as well as the accountability of several state agencies, including the spy agency.
This is the first time a top intelligence agency official has undergone trial, an indication of the government’s commitment to bring justice to rights abuse victims.
“The defendant is charged for acting alone or together with Pollycarpus conducting a premeditated murder of human rights activist Munir during a flight from Jakarta to Den Haag,” said prosecutor Cirus Sinaga. The charge carries a maximum death penalty.
Sinaga said Munir was killed because he unveiled the kidnapping of 13 rights activists by an army special force team in 1997 and 1998 when former president Suharto was in power.
The disclosure led to the sacking of Purwoprandjono, who was then commander of the army’s special force. —— Reuters.
“When Purwoprandjono was promoted as BIN deputy on March 2003 a chance opened up to stop Munir’s activities… to avenge his resentment and disliking to take out Munir’s life using a BIN agent Pollycarpus,” Sinaga said.
Purwoprandjono has maintained his innocence.