Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Indonesian Supreme Court has closed its long investigation into the murder of well-known human rights activist Munir Thalib. Overturning an earlier sentence, the judges definitively condemned to 20 years in prison the former pilot for the Garuda airline, Pollycarpus Priyanto, found guilty of poisoning Munir while he was travelling between Jakarta and Singapore in 2004.
Munir was an unsettling person in Indonesia: he had denounced the military involvement in the repression in East Timor, and in 1999 he was appointed to a UN investigation committee on the violation of human rights in the former Portuguese colony occupied by Jakarta.
In recent years, the case was very closely followed by the Indonesian and international press. After the reading of his guilty sentence, Pollycarpus said that he was a "scapegoat", the victim of a "media campaign" mounted against him. Pollycarpus, a Catholic who lived between Papua and East Timor, continues to deny the accusations.
In December of 2005, the district tribunal of central Jakarta had sentenced the pilot to 14 years in prison, for the commission of the crime and for "falsification of documents". But in 2006, Jakarta's high court ruled that there was not sufficient proof to demonstrate responsibility in the assassination, while confirming the two-year prison sentence for the falsification of documents. This sentence was later reaffirmed by the Supreme Court as well. Then, in July of 2007, Jakarta's procurator general reopened the case on the basis of new evidence and witnesses, including the former president of the airline, Indra Setiawan, and an agent of the national intelligence service, Raden Muhammad Patma Anwar. There are many activists who continue to point to the Indonesian secret service as the real culprits behind the assassination.