Tue, 08 Mar 2005

Police to probe Garuda pilot on Munir murder

Eva C. Komandjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Police investigators are zeroing in on four key witnesses in their efforts to unravel the case of the murder of human rights activist Munir, a top officer said.

National Police chief of detectives Comr. Gen. Suyitno Landung said on Monday all the four witnesses are Garuda employees, including pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who was aboard the Garuda flight that took Munir to Amsterdam, as an aviation officer.

"We will arrange another round of questioning this week for Garuda officials and witnesses who we consider to be holding key information related to the case," Suyitno said after a hearing with the House of Representatives Commission III for law and legislation.

When asked whether Garuda's president director Indra Setiawan, vice president of corporate security Ramelgia Anwar and secretary of the chief pilot officer Rohainul Aini have been summoned for questioning, Suyitno refused to confirm or deny the rumor.

Munir, co-founder of both human rights organizations Indonesian Humans Rights Watch (Imparsial) and the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), was found dead on Sept. 7 two hours before touchdown. An autopsy by Dutch authorities discovered excessive level of arsenic in his body.

Pollycarpus was the person who offered Munir the chance to move from his economy seat to Pollycarpus' business class one.

Suyitno said Pollycarpus would be questioned about who served food or beverages to Munir among other pertinent details.

The government-sanctioned fact-finding team previously found that Indra had assigned Pollycarpus to help another unit. The letter was signed by Ramelgia Anwar, instead of operational director Rudy A. Hardono, who is the supervisor of all Garuda pilots.

The letter was allegedly typed and signed on Sept. 17, more than a week after Munir's death, although Indra claimed that he had assigned Pollycarpus on Sept. 4.

Rohainul had said the assignment letter was put on her desk before Munir's flight left Jakarta, but later she changed her account saying she had not received it before the flight's departure.

Suyitno said police investigators are gathering more data to determine the exact time when Munir was poisoned. So far they believe the rights campaigner was poisoned en route to a stop- over in Singapore based on the timing of his symptoms.

The officer added that it was difficult for the police to name suspects now due to lack of hard evidence.