The Jayapura High Court has found West Papuan human rights and social justice activist Victor Yeimo guilty of treason and sentenced him to one year in prison in an appeal judgement this week.
The verdict was delivered during a public session held by the panel of judges headed by Paluko Hutagalung, with Adrianus Agung Putrantono and Sigit Pangudianto, serving as member judges.
The charges against Yeimo, the international spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee, stem from his alleged involvement in the Papuan anti-racism protest condemning racial slurs targeting Papuan students at the Kamasan III Student Dormitory in Surabaya on August 16, 2019.
Yeimo was accused of leading the demonstrations that occurred in Jayapura City on August 19 and 29, 2019.
The Jayapura High Court imposed a harsher criminal sentence than the previous verdict on May 5, 2023.
In the previous ruling, the court found Victor Yeimo guilty of violating Article 155 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code, which pertains to the public display of writings or images containing expressions of hostility, hatred, or contempt towards the Indonesian government.
Yeimo was then sentenced to 8 months’ imprisonment.
The earlier verdict stirred controversy because the charge of Article 155 paragraph (1) of the Criminal Code was not initially brought against Victor Yeimo. Also, the legal article used to sentence him had already been invalidated by the Constitutional Court.
On May 12, 2023, both the public prosecutor and the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Human Rights for Papua, representing Yeimo as his legal counsel, appealed against the court ruling.
In the appeal decision, the Jayapura High Court overturned the previous decision, found Yeimo guilty of treason, and upheld the initial one-year prison sentence requested by the public prosecutor.
The panel of judges at the Jayapura High Court stated that the time Yeimo had already spent in arrest and detention would be fully deducted from the imposed sentence and ordered him to remain in detention.
Republished with permission.