Sat, 05 Mar 2005

Evidence scarce in investigation into Munir's murder, say police

Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

A lack of hard evidence remains a major obstacle in the investigation into the death of rights activist Munir, despite irregularities found in several documents that could possibly link Garuda airline to the case, police said.

Director of Transnational Crime at National Police Headquarters, Brig. Gen. Pranowo, said on Friday police were looking into the possibility that Garuda employees were involved in the case because of irregularities found in Garuda documents collected by investigators.

"Of course I suspect Garuda employees have something to do with the case when we look at the documents. Unfortunately, we don't have enough material yet to support our suspicions," Pranowo said.

He was responding to the government-sanctioned fact-finding team, which said Munir's death by arsenic poisoning could involve a conspiracy involving the national flag carrier.

The rights campaigner died aboard a Garuda plane two hours before it landed in Amsterdam. Dutch authorities performed an autopsy and found an excessive amount of arsenic in Munir's body.

The fact-finding team said two employees and a director of Garuda could be linked to the case. The team said a Garuda director issued a letter to cover up irregularities related to Munir's death.

After an investigation, police found that Garuda assigned a pilot, identified as Pollycarpus, to take the flight that took Munir to Singapore on Sept. 7 as an aviation security officer. However, police found Pollycarpus' assignment letter was issued only on Sept. 17 and was typed and signed on a Saturday, when administration offices are normally closed.

Garuda president director Indra Setiawan said he assigned Pollycarpus to travel to Singapore to assist another Garuda unit there. The assignment letter was signed by Garuda's corporate secretary, Ramalgia Anwar, not the operational director, who is the supervisor for all Garuda pilots.

Pranowo said the documents were only clues and not evidence that could support charges against a suspect.

Separately, a source at National Police Headquarters said another Garuda employee could be named a suspect for lying to the office about the existence of Pollycarpus' assignment letter.

She told the police the letter was on her desk before Munir's flight left Jakarta. She later changed her account, saying she had not received the letter before the flight left.

The source claimed someone had asked the woman to lie about the letter to hamper the police investigation.





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