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BREAKING NEWS: Convicted Killer of Human Rights Activist Free on Parole

YOGYAKARTA (29/11) – Convicted murderer of Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who is also a former Garuda Indonesia pilot, was freed yesterday by the Indonesian Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. Polly was freed after spending a total of more than five years at Lembaga Pemasyarakatan Sukamiskin, Bandung, after his engagement was proved regarding the political assassination of Munir during a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. Polly was sentenced 20 years in jail in January 2008, afterwards receiving a reconsideration which cut his term 6 years, making him having to spend 14 years in jail. The murderer was paroled on Friday, November 28, 2014, having to report once a month to the Sukamiskin warden.

On September 7, 2004, Munir boarded Garuda Indonesia flight 974 from the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta. The flight was supposed to head to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, whereas Munir was planned to study International Humanitarian Law in Utretch University. At the airport, Munir met Polly, a pilot he knew before, who gave up his seat on business class to Munir, who gladly accepted it. The plane was scheduled to transit at Changi airport, Singapore before heading to Amsterdam. During the 120 minute flight to Singapore, Munir was offered champagne but ordered a glass of orange juice and had fried noodles for dinner. When the plane transited at Singapore, a passenger who knew Munir and was also scheduled to fly in the same course as him, Mrs Drupadi, testified that during the transit Munir looked pale, but thought that he was tired due to the fact that he was an activist. During the connecting flight to Amsterdam, Munir repeatedly went to the bathroom as he suffered from acute diarrhea, which was deemed as the result of an arsenic poisoning. A doctor on board checked on Munir’s condition repeatedly and gave him shots, but approximately three hours before the plane landed in Amsterdam, above the sky of Hungary, Munir’s body was already cold.

Some peculiarities were found on Munir’s death, making the media claim that this is no ordinary illness and or accidental poisoning. During the transit at Changi, Polly took the chance and went back to Indonesia without any specific reasons. This peculiarity was even amplified by the fact that from 60 CCTV cameras at the Soekarno-Hatta International airport, 58 of them were off during the day Munir flied, and the remaining 2 cameras on were deprived of its footage for unspecific reasons. Mrs Drupadi also testified that in the plane, when Munir died and his body was removed, there was no announcements at all, so she didn’t realize that Munir had died before. Afterwards, the Netherland Forensic Institute revealed that there was arsenic in Munir’s body systems, three times the lethal amount, enough for killing two people. Until now, this cased hasn’t been resolved properly.

Polly and two other flight attendants were appointed suspects and afterwards convicts of Munir’s death, assuming that they had done that under the orders of Indra Setiawan, Garuda Indonesia’s chief executive at that time. Polly was then sentenced, but during his times in jail received a few remissions and was able to “get out” for a few months, even though under strict watching by the warden(s). Being the critical activist as he was, Munir was seen as an eyesore to some high level politicians in Jakarta, which rose the question that some higher ups in the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency could also be involved in the killing.

Penetentiary directorate spokesman, Akbar Hadi, stated that Polly has achieved all requirements to receive a parole, although unexplained which and what requirements. He is supposed to report once a month to his warden during his parole period that will last till 2018. During his parole also, Polly is prohibited from travelling abroad. During his sentenced times in jail, Polly has received 11 remissions with a total sentence time cut by 42 months during several occasions such as Independence day and Christmas.

Although convicted murder, the real suspect behind the death of Munir remains unknown until today. Is this a sign that the newly appointed government of Jokowi-JK shows no respect and attention at all concerning human rights?

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