Fri, 18 May 2001

25 Irian Jaya officers implicated in rights abuses

JAKARTA (JP): The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Thursday submitted to the Attorney General's Office the names of 25 Irian Jaya police officers who were allegedly responsible for physically abusing and torturing civilians following a mob attack on a police station last year

Head of the investigating team Albert Hasibuan refused to name the suspects in compliance with Law No. 26/2000 on human rights tribunals, but he alleged that the 25 officers were responsible for the arrest and torture of more than 90 Irianese residents and students.

"This case constitutes a gross violation of human rights and should be prosecuted under the rights' tribunal law rather than under the Criminal Code," he said.

The alleged violations claimed the lives of three students -- two died in the Jayapura police station while one was shot dead during his arrest.

Two other victims had suffered permanent physical injuries as a result of the police action, he told a media briefing at the Attorney General's Office.

The inquiry grouped the alleged perpetrators of the violations into three categories: those who directly conducted the arrests and abused the prisoners, those who were responsible for the operation, and those who were responsible for order and security in Jayapura.

The first category involved 21 police officers and members of the police's elite brigade mobile.

The other four suspects were high-ranking police officers in Irian Jaya who should be held responsible for the incident as they were in command, the inquiry's executive summary stated.

The inquiry started its work on Feb. 5 and completed it on May 5 after questioning 51 victims, 29 police officers and 10 mobile brigade personnel involved in the case.

During the visit to the Attorney General's Office, Hasibuan was accompanied by other commission executives, including chairman Djoko Soegianto, vice chairman Saparinah Sadli and secretary-general Asmara Nababan, together with the secretary of the Irian Jaya inquiry, Sriyana.

The group was received by Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, the office's chief human rights' investigator M.A. Rachman and his secretary Umar Bawazier.

The case took place in the early hours of Dec. 7, following a mob attack on Abepura police station which killed a policeman and badly injured three others.

A shop in front of the police station was also set ablaze and a security guard was found slashed to death two kilometers from the police station.

Police believed that the mob were Wamena residents who had come down from the mountainous areas of the Baliem valley in central Irian Jaya. The police then launched a search for those involved in the attack in three student dormitories and three residential complexes mostly occupied by people from Wamena, according to the inquiry.

Those arrested during the police operation were detained for a night without a warrant and all of them were released the next day as the police failed to find any evidence of their involvement in the attack.

Hasibuan assumed that the attack was related to the police's lowering of the Morning Star, the Papuan separatist flag, on Dec. 1 after it had been hoisted to commemorate what the Irianese claim is their independence day.

The inquiry also uncovered two documents on a special police operation to curb the separatist movement which depicted a systematic and well-organized campaign of human rights abuse, with victims being tortured because of their religion and race, and some being sexually assaulted. (bby)