Family of Papuan pastor killed by TNI agrees to autopsy, with conditions

Pastor Yeremia Zanambani
Rev Yeremia Zanambani ... alleged to have been shot dead by the Indonesian military in Hitadiap village on September 19. Image: Suara Papua

By Devina Halim in Jakarta

The family of Pastor Yeremia Zanambani who was killed in Intan Jaya, Papua, on September 19 last year has agreed to an autopsy being conducted with certain conditions.

“[First] that the autopsy be done by an independent medical team, which has been agreed to by the victim’s family,” said a member of the family’s team of lawyers, Yohanis Mambrasar, in his explanation.

The other condition is that the autopsy be done fairly and transparently and be observed by the victim’s family, the victim’s lawyer and witnesses, as well as independent organisations.

The independent organisations referred to include the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), the Papua Coalition for Law Enforcement and Human Rights, Amnesty International Indonesia, the Intan Jaya regency Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) and the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI).

Finally, the family is asking that the autopsy be done in Hitadipa district, Intan Jaya.

Mambrasar said that a letter by the family agreeing to the autopsy was personally handed over to investigators and accepted by the head of the Intan Jaya district police criminal investigation unit in Nabire, on February 12.

Mambrasar added that the letter was signed by Zanambani’s widow, Mariam Zoani, along with the deceased’s two children, Yedida Zanambani and Rode Zanambani.

‘investigators must fulfill family request’
“We’re pushing the investigators to do the autopsy properly, fairly and transparently. The investigators must fulfill the family’s request,” he said.

Mambrasar also hopes that the case will be able to proceed to trial.

“Following this the legal process can be pushed on to the next criminal investigation stage and be followed up with a criminal prosecution and hearing in a human rights court, as per the victim’s family’s request,” he said.

Previously, the family had refused to allow an autopsy to be conducted for cultural reasons. Local people believe that a body which has already been buried should not be removed from the grave.

Moreover, if a body is exhumed, according to local community beliefs, it will result in calamity for the dead person’s family.

“An autopsy of our father’s body very much conflicts with our culture. If an autopsy is done something bad will happened to us, and this of course will further add to our burden,” said Rode Zanambani in a written statement on November 11, 2020.

Testimonies sufficient
In addition to this, the family believes that the testimonies of witnesses, including local people, the testimonies of experts, preliminary and material evidence is sufficient to solve the case.

As has been reported, there are suspicions of the involvement of security personnel in the killing as revealed in reports by both the Intan Jaya Joint Fact Finding Team (TGPF) and Komnas HAM.

The TGPF, which was formed by the government, revealed the involvement of security personnel in Zanambani’s shooting, although it also raised the possibility that the killing was committed by a third party.

According to Komnas HAM report meanwhile, the perpetrator who tortured and murdered Zanambani and thereby committed an extrajudicial killing is suspected to be a senior officer with the Hitadipa sub-district military command (Koramil).

Although the government sanctioned TGPF only said that it found indications of the involvement of security personnel in Zanambani’s murder, the Komnas HAM investigation explicitly named Zanambani’s murderer as being Hitadipa sub-district military commander Chief Sergeant Alpius Hasim Madi. Komnas HAM said that Zanambani was killed while being interrogated on the whereabouts of an Indonesian military assault rifle seized two days earlier during an exchange of fire with the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB).

Translated by James Balowski for IndoLeft News. The original title of the article was “Keluarga Setuju Jenazah Pendeta Yeremia Diotopsi dengan Sejumlah Syarat”.

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