Viewing cable 06JAKARTA12800

06JAKARTA128002006-10-23 08:52:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
DE RUEHJA #2800/01 2960852
P 230852Z OCT 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 JAKARTA 012800 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2016 
     ¶B. JAKARTA 3464 
     ¶C. JAKARTA 4035 
JAKARTA 00012800  001.2 OF 004 
Classified By: Amb. B. Lynn Pascoe, Reasons: 1.4 (b, d) 
¶1. (C)  Summary. A church-affiliated task force has asked 
Indonesia's National Committee on Human Rights (KomnasHAM) to 
open an investigation into the conviction and sentencing of 
23 men charged in connection with a March 16 riot in Abepura, 
Papua that led to the death of three unarmed policemen and an 
intelligence officer (ref. A).  The task force submitted a 
report to KomnasHAM on October 6 arguing that physical abuse 
of the suspects and gross irregularities in their trial 
amount to crimes against humanity.  Defense lawyers and the 
director of KomnasHAM's Papua office elaborated on these 
charges in recent meetings.  In our assessment, Indonesian 
authorities have scapegoated a mix of politically troublesome 
activists and innocent Papuan bystanders.  The handling of 
the case tarnishes what had been improvements of police 
behavior in Papua, and justifiably reinforces Papuan mistrust 
of the Indonesian legal system.  The affair is generating 
international concern and has already been the subject of 
formal demarches to Jakarta by New Zealand, Australia, and 
Finland (as European Union president).  End summary. 
Papuan Churches Protest Abuse, Trial, and Sentences 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
¶2. (SBU) Indonesian human rights and civil society groups are 
protesting serious irregularities in the prosecution of 24 
persons charged in connection with the March 16 riot in 
Abepura, Papua, which cost the lives of three police officers 
and one plainclothes Air Force intelligence officer 
(reftels).  The March melee began when police attempted to 
break up a demonstration calling for the closure of the 
operations near Timika, Papua of the U.S. mining firm P.T. 
Freeport Indonesia.  The 23 men already tried and sentenced 
are either student organizers of the demonstration, 
protestors who were alleged to have thrown rocks, or persons 
who were implicated by other suspects during police 
¶3. (SBU) The suspects were tried in two tranches.  Eleven 
were sentenced in late July, and the rest were sentenced in 
late September and early October.  Steven Wandik, the only 
suspect charged with murder, has not yet been sentenced.  The 
accused were defended by two separate teams.  Shortly after 
the first arrests, a defense team was formed consisting of 
Pieter Ell (the head of the Jayapura office of the human 
rights NGO Kontras) and lawyers from the NGOs ALDP (Alliance 
for Democracy in Papua) and Elsham (Institute for The Study 
and Advocacy of Human Rights).  However, in mid-July a group 
of six defendants led by Eko Berotabui, dissatisfied with the 
passivity and ineffectiveness of these lawyers, engaged 
Jakarta-based attorneys from the Indonesian Legal Aid and 
Human Rights Association (PBHI).  Eko Berotabui is, 
incidentally, the son of the Rev. Cornelius Berotabui, new 
moderator of the Evangelical Christian Church (GKI), Papua's 
most important Protestant denomination. 
¶4. (C) The PBHI lawyers requested "protective accompaniment" 
from a Western NGO, Peace Brigades International (PBI).  PBI, 
whose mission is to deter human rights abuses against 
threatened groups or persons, is staffed by volunteers from 
Europe and North America.  In meetings with poloff, PBI 
staffers confirmed reports that in the early stages of the 
trial, Indonesian police had created an atmosphere of 
intimidation in the courtroom by packing it with armed police 
and plainclothes intelligence and by insisting that all 
spectators register their names and affiliations.  These 
practices were later stopped in response to complaints by 
defense lawyers. 
¶5. (C) A notable incident during the trial occurred on August 
28, when a police officer named Novril assaulted defendant 
Nelson Rumbiak as he was being led from a vehicle back to his 
cell at Abepura prison.  The beating followed a day of 
testimony in which Rumbiak named three policemen, including 
Chief of Criminal Investigation Paulus Waterpauw, who had 
allegedly beaten him and other suspects in the case. 
Immediately following this incident, the judge ordered that 
all suspects in the case be transferred from Abepura prison 
back to the jail at Provincial Police Headquarters, where 
much of the initial abuse of the suspects had been committed. 
 Following an overnight demonstration by families of the 
JAKARTA 00012800  002.2 OF 004 
suspects, this order was rescinded.  The police officer 
Novril was reportedly punished with administrative sanctions. 
 Provincial Police Chief Tommy Jakobus told poloff on October 
13 that he would refer the matter to the prosecutor to press 
criminal charges as well. 
Sentences Handed Dawn 
¶6. (SBU) Selivius Bobi, an organizer of the demonstration and 
leader of the student group Street Parliament, was sentenced 
to six years in prison for inciting others to use violence. 
Nelson Rumbiak received 6 years on a charge of aggravated 
theft for stealing two Brimob tear gas canisters found at the 
scene of the demonstration.  Othen Dapyal, Elkana Lokobal, 
Musa Asso, Monjefri Obaja Pawika, and Mathias Mihel Dimara 
were each sentenced to five years for using violence against 
other persons.  Ferdinando Pakage and Luis Gede each received 
15 years for resisting members of the security forces in the 
performance of their duties, resulting in the loss of life of 
a security force member.  Marcus Kayame, Patrisius Arrongear, 
Thomas Ukago, Perius Waker, Elyas Tameka, and Bensiur Mirin 
received sentences of four and five years for use of violence 
in resisting the security forces in performance of their 
duties.  Sedrik Jitmau, Muhammad Kaitam, Aris Mandowen, Piter 
Stevanus Buinei, Yasya Eko Merano Berotabui and Sam Wandik 
received sentences of four and five years for disobeying 
orders from security officers.  Steven Wandik, who has not 
yet been sentenced, was convicted of the killing the 
plainclothes Air Force officer Agung Prihadi Wijaya and faces 
a much heavier sentence.   None of these individuals appeared 
on the list of wanted persons issued by the Papuan Provincial 
Police's Criminal Research Bureau in the aftermath of the 
riots last March. 
Church Investigates, Demands KomnasHAM Action 
¶7. (SBU) On September 27, the Federation of Papuan Churches 
issued a thorough report on the case, prepared by researchers 
affiliated with Evangelical Christian Church (GKI) and the 
Catholic Diocese of Jayapura's Truth and Justice Secretariat. 
 The report argues that the police's actions during and 
following the March 16 riot meet the definition of crimes 
against humanity stipulated in Indonesia's 2000 law setting 
up the Human Rights Courts.  The most serious of these 
violations are physical abuse of the suspects and denial of 
access to legal counsel.  The report also asserts that the 
police's raids of student dormitories following the riots 
resulted in significant property damage and terrorization of 
civil society.  Moreover, the arbitrary nature of the arrests 
led an undetermined number of students to flee the Abepura 
area.  Most of them returned to the hometowns or sought 
refuge in the Jayapura area, while about thirty others fled 
to Papua New Guinea.  The report's authors verified one 
individual was killed in the aftermath of the riot, Jeni 
Hisage.  According to officials of the Peace and Justice 
Secretariat, Ms. Hisage was beaten and then shot by police 
following the killings of the three Brimob officers. 
¶8. (SBU)  In addition to criticizing the police, the report 
addresses the trial phase, identifying violations by the 
judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys of the Indonesian 
Criminal Procedure Code and other legal guidelines.  The 
report concludes there was no presumption of innocence; the 
suspects were interrogated without legal counsel; prosecution 
witnesses failed to identify suspects definitively; there 
were many irregularities involving evidence presented in 
court; and the judges made decisions on the custody of the 
suspects that jeopardized their safety.  Despite the fact 
that the trial failed to determine who had killed the four 
security officers on March 16, the judges in many cases 
imposed sentences heavier than those recommended by the 
¶9. (SBU) The report states that the police and courts' 
actions are comparable to those in the first Abepura case 
(2000), which the National Commission on Human Rights 
(KomnasHAM) formally deemed "gross violations of human 
rights" and referred to the Human Rights Court in Makassar. 
Accordingly, the report's primary recommendation is that 
KomnasHAM form an investigative committee to pursue the 
matter.  The report also calls for the Attorney General's 
office and Indonesian Bar Association to investigate the 
actions of the judges, prosecutors, and lawyers during the 
trial in Jayapura. 
JAKARTA 00012800  003.2 OF 004 
Foreign Governments Watching 
¶10. (C) The trial has already resulted in formal demarches by 
the governments of Australia, New Zealand, and, in its 
capacity as EU President, Finland.  The New Zealand DCM told 
us that his government's action was largely in response to a 
September 2 letter to Foreign Minister Peters from an NGO 
called the Indonesia Human Rights Committee. 
Jayapura KomnasHAM, Defense Team Speak Out 
¶11.  (C) During an October 9-14 trip to Papua, poloff met 
with contacts who also expressed deep concern with the 
trials.  Albert Rumbekwan, director of KomnasHAM's Jayapura 
office, deplored the maltreatment of the suspects, climate of 
intimidation and multiple procedural irregularities during 
the trial and flagrant bias of the three judges presiding 
over the case.  He stated that during interrogation, suspect 
Aris Mandowen was shot in the foot by a police officer named 
Aris Pulbaya, who had subsequently been promoted and named 
district police chief in Bintuni Bay regency.  Rumbekwan said 
that KomnasHAM in Jayapura would prepare its own report and 
submit it to Jakarta for action, but he was not optimistic 
that this would produce results.  He remarked that KomnasHAM 
in Jakarta seemed reluctant to take on new cases because of 
an ongoing personnel turnover. 
¶12. (C) In an October 10 meeting with poloff, defense lawyers 
with PBHI elaborated on the many irregularities that had 
emerged during both the investigative and trial phases.  The 
use of physical evidence was farcical, they said.  At the 
time of arrest, the lawyers said, the suspects had been told 
to bring the clothing that they had been wearing on the day 
of the demonstration; this was then admitted as evidence as 
if it had been seized by police.  During the trial, rocks and 
sticks were piled on a table.  Police witnesses were asked 
whether demonstrators had used items "like that" against them 
during the protest.  When the police replied affirmatively, 
the rocks and sticks - which had apparently been gathered at 
random and were not linked to the demonstrators in any way - 
were admitted as "evidence." 
¶13. (C)  The lawyers also said that some suspects had not 
been positively identified by police.  For example, a police 
intelligence officer testified that he had seen four 
different suspects present at the protest, yet he could not 
identify any distinguishing features about them other than 
that they were "short Papuans."  Some photographic evidence 
was introduced in the form of pictures taken by plainclothes 
police, but these merely showed some suspects listening to 
speeches, not assaulting police officers.  Also, despite the 
fact that TransTV shot footage showing the lethal attacks on 
the Brimob and Air Force officers, this evidence was used 
neither in the investigation nor the trial, underscoring the 
fact that the authorities made no serious effort to identify, 
let alone arrest, the true killers. 
¶14. (C) The PBHI lawyers complained about bias on the part of 
judges Moris Genting, Lakonie, and Deni Sunadi.  (This was 
the team that imposed 15-year sentences on Filip Karma and 
Yusuf Pakage in the 2005 independence flag-raising case). 
During the trial, the judges attempted to suppress any 
reference by the defendants to police abuse.  When, during 
cross examination, three defendants recanted earlier 
statements, saying that these had been elicited by beatings, 
the judges requested that the prosecutors initiate perjury 
charges against the defendants. 
¶15. (C)  The PBHI lawyers claimed that there had been 
instances of intimidation.  On September 1, Defense attorney 
Situmorang had received a threatening text message.  In a 
phone conversation with ElsHAM lawyer Aloysius Renwarin, 
Director of Criminal Investigations Paulus Waterpauw had 
threatened to "shut up" Situmorang and her colleague David 
Sitorus.  (Unbeknownst to Waterpauw, Renwarin had activated a 
speakerphone and both Sitorus and Situmorang were listening.) 
 Some relatives of the defendants had also been subjected to 
incidents of verbal harassment and surveillance by unknown 
persons that may have been attempts to intimidate, the 
lawyers said.  The PBHI lawyers also said that the climate of 
intimidation had prevented witnesses with exculpatory 
testimony from coming forward.  For example, three witnesses 
who could place Steven Wandik (the only suspect charged with 
JAKARTA 00012800  004.2 OF 004 
murder) at his workplace on March 16 were refusing to come 
forward unless Wandik's defense team could guarantee their 
¶16. (C) The PBHI lawyers said that they did not plan to 
appeal the verdicts, since they feared that this would result 
in even harsher sentences.  This was seconded by the Rev. 
Cornelius Berotabui, father of one of the defendants, in a 
separate meeting with poloff on October 13.  He noted with 
resignation that the authorities' approach to the entire 
affair was what Papuans had come to expect. 
Case Not Closed? 
¶17. (C) It is possible that more arrests are still to come. 
In late September, Kosmos Yual, a student leader on the list 
of persons wanted in connection with the March 16 riot, 
turned himself in to police.  This was apparently a 
negotiated surrender, fueling rumors already in circulation 
that he was in fact a police informant.  Contacts in Jayapura 
speculated to poloff that Yual might provide police with 
information that could lead to a new round of arrests. 
¶18. (SBU) The causes of the bloodshed on March 16 will be 
debated for years to come.  Although some Papuans talk of 
conspiracy and provocation by intelligence operatives, we 
believe that a more likely explanation is spectacularly bad 
decision-making on the part of the police on the scene. 
However, while the gruesome murder of three unarmed policemen 
and an air force officer at the hands of angry mob is 
unconscionable, the authorities' handling of the aftermath 
has merely added a new chapter to the history of miscarriages 
of justice in Papua.  It is clear that the police rounded up 
a miscellany of perceived trouble-makers and random 
individuals and that the prosecutors and judges then 
railroaded them in a farcical show trial.  While it is 
understandable that the police should be angered over the 
deaths of their colleagues, this episode will likely only 
fuel mistrust between indigenous Papuans and the police and 
justice system.  This is all the more unfortunate because it 
occurs after a period of generally improved performance and 
greater professionalism on the part of the police in Papua. 
End Comment.