Convicted murderer of human rights defender Munir dies of covid-19

Protesters wear masks of the face of the late human rights defender Munir during the weekly Kamisan Silent protest in front of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on September 7, 2017. Image: Ibrahim Irsyad/The Jakarta Post

By Tri Indah Oktavianti in Jakarta

The convicted murderer of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, died on Saturday after testing positive for covid-19.

“He died at 2:52 pm at Pertamina Hospital [in Jakarta],” Pollycarpus’ former lawyer Wirawan Adnan said on Saturday as quoted by

Wirawan said he received the news from Pollycarpus’ wife, Yosepha Hera Iswandari. He added that Pollycarpus had been diagnosed with covid-19 just over two weeks earlier.

The former Garuda airline pilot was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2006 for his role in the death of the prominent human rights campaigner during a flight from Jakarta to Singapore on September 6, 2004.

He was granted parole by the government in 2014 and officially finished his sentence in 2018.

The Solidarity Action Committee for Munir (KASUM) said Pollycarpus’ death should not end the investigation into Munir’s death.

“It is important to note that the murder of Munir was not simply a crime but a conspiracy that involved many parties besides Polycarpus who must be found, tried and punished,” KASUM secretary-general and constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti said in a written statement on Saturday.

‘Lack of political will’
“We believe the investigation into Munir’s murder is not held back by a lack of evidence or by Pollycarpus’ death but rather by the government’s lack of political will.”

Bivitri also called for the authorities to open an investigation into Pollycarpus’ death, given his knowledge of the masterminds behind Munir’s murder.

“Authorities should conduct an objective and open investigation into Pollycarpus’ death in order to dismiss any suspicions,” she said.

Tri Indah Oktavianti is a journalist with The Jakarta Post.

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