Now, for the Mastermind

Police are to continue the investigation into Munir’s murder, but everything depends on the president’s level of commitment.THE police now have some homework to do after the panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto to 14 years in jail in the Munir murder case. During the court hearing, the judges said that it was shown that from August 25 up until the day Munir died, phone records show 41 phone contacts between Pollycarpus and cell phone number 0811900978 owned by Muchdi Purwoprandjono, a former Level V Deputy Director of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

The judges declared that Munir’s murder was a conspiracy and in one point of clarification noted that there was a possibility that the one who gave the order for the murder was the person who spoke with Pollycarpus. Although there was no witness that overheard the conversation, “Between the defendant and the speaker on the phone there was an agreement about the manner in which Munir was to be killed,” said presiding judge Cicut Sutiarso.

The judges’ findings are not unlike those of the Fact-Finding Team’s (TPF) earlier findings in the case. According to Asmara Nababan, the former deputy chair of the TPF, the telephone evidence was indeed an indication of BIN’s involvement. The TPF is of the opinion that the one who gave the assassination order was the person who used Muchdi’s phone. “Whether it was Muchdi or another person, we don’t know yet,” said Asmara.

Based on these facts, the TPF attempted to question BIN’s former chief, Hendropriyono, Muchdi and BIN secretary Nurhadi Jazuli. But by the time the team’s mandate ended on June 23, 2005, the team had still been unable to question them. The TPF says Asmara gave a recommendation to the president to investigate the three. “By questioning them, Muchdi, Hendropriyono and the others, we would know whether the case ends here or there is far more to it,” said Asmara.

In an interview with Tempo, Hendropriyono denied that Munir was a target of a BIN operation. “Munir didn’t enter our radar screen,” he said (see Tempo June 13, 2005). As it turned out, at a court hearing on November 17, Muchdi denied having any telephone contact with Pollycarpus. According to Muchdi, his cell phone number that “keeps being mentioned” was given to him by PT Barito Pacific Timber and the company even paid for the cell phone’s use. “So, anyone could have used the cell phone,” he said. Muchdi, however, admitted to having once asked civil rights lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution to warn Munir not to be too vocal in criticizing the government.

During the court hearing on Tuesday last week, the judge found that Muchdi’s alibi was implausible. “The witness’ testimony in relation to the hand-phone that could and may have been used by another person or anyone else that wanted to use it, without even once mentioning who the persons were, is totally
implausible,” said the judges. Tempo has been unable to reach Muchdi for comment on the judges’ statement. When contacted via his cell phone, a dial tone was audible and then cut out.

Speaking with Tempo, prosecutor Domu P. Sihite said that he would rather not comment on the judges’ conclusions about Muchdi’s alibi. According to Domu, when they submitted a printout of the telephone’s use linked to Pollycarpus, Muchdi at that time did not deny the evidence. “But he denied that he was the one that had used the telephone,” said Domu, adding that he was unable to force Muchdi to confess. “So, now it’s up to the public to make an assessment.”

According to former TPF member Rachlan Nasidik, the judges’ decision points in the direction of there being a mastermind behind Munir’s murder. “This is what must be pursued by the police,” he said. According to Rachlan, the matter now rests on a commitment by the police and the president.

Speaking from the State Palace, presidential spokesperson Andi Mallarangeng stated that President Yudhoyono has already ordered National Police Chief Gen. Sutanto to take serious steps to solve the case. “The evidence that was revealed in the court will also be [taken as] a reference,” said Mallarangeng. Sutanto has stated that they will continue to investigate the case and will be appealing to Pollycarpus to come clean. “So that we will know who is [really] behind it,” he said.

Many people are concerned that the case will stop with Pollycarpus. One who shares this concern is Rachlan. Especially so, he says, if based on the fate of the TPF’s former chair, Brig. Gen. Marsudi Hanafi, who appears to have been “dumped” and is now working as an expert staff member at National Police HQ. The fate of Marsudi says Rachlan, will undermine the courage of any investigators that seriously want to uncover the conspiracy behind the Munir case. “If a general can be treated like that, what about people like us,” said Rachlan mimicking complaints expressed by police investigators in the case.

Abdul Manan, Budi Riza, Erwinda

TEMPO, JANUARY 02, 2006-017/P. 95 Heading Law

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