Mastermind behind murder of activist Munir still unknown after 13 years

'Beware! Mastermind of Munir's murder is still out there!' says a poster under an overpass in Bogor, West Java. Image: Arif Firmansyah/Antara

By  Dames Alexander Sinaga in Jakarta

Almost 13 years to the day since human rights activist Munir Said Thalib was poisoned with arsenic aboard a Garuda Indonesia flight bound for Amsterdam, his fellow activists are urging President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to publish a report originally produced in 2005 by a fact-finding team that they believe will reveal the mastermind of the mysterious murder.

A former Garuda Indonesia pilot, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for premeditated murder in the case.

In court, Pollycarpus was shown to have spiked fried noodles that Munir ate during his flight with arsenic. He was released on parole in 2014.

Muchdi, a deputy head at the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) at the time of Munir’s murder on September 7, 2004, was also charged with conspiracy to murder in the case but was declared not guilty by a Jakarta court in 2009.

Even before then though, Munir’s family, led by his wife Suciwati, and rights activists have been demanding that the government find the real mastermind behind the murder.

In October 2016, the Central Information Commission (KIP) demanded the government publish the report by the fact-finding team on Munir’s murder, reviving hopes the mastermind would finally be unveiled.

Following KIP’s recommendation, former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) submitted the report to Widodo’s administration in late October last year.

Report apparently unread
Almost a year on, Widodo has apparently not yet read the report.

Suciwati said she has little hope the Jokowi administration will publish the report or try to find the mastermind behind Munir’s murder.

“I am pessimistic about President Jokowi. However, we will keep pushing him. It’s his duty as president to settle this case,” she said in a public discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday

Suciwati said she had met with government officials many times when SBY was still in power to try to persuade them to release the report, but to no avail.

“[Meeting government officials] only turned me into a political commodity. I don’t need to meet them again. I just want this case to be solved,” she said.

Suciwati said Widodo should make it a priority of his remaining two years in his first term as president to release the report.

Meanwhile, former fact-finding member Usman Hamid said Munir’s murder will not be solved until the report is opened and made public.

“Munir’s murder is still unsolved because the main actor is still out there. Without our investigation, we would not even know Munir was killed,” he added.

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