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Indonesian court acquits spy of murdering activist

Indonesian court acquits spy of murdering activist

An Indonesian court Wednesday acquitted a former state intelligence agent of ordering the poisoning death of a prominent rights campaigner aboard an airliner _ a verdict that sparked an angry protest by the victim's supporters.
A panel of judges cleared retired Maj. Gen. Muchdi Purwoprandjono of all charges, saying in a ruling at the South Jakarta District Court that he had "not been proven guilty."
Munir Thalib died of arsenic poisoning on a flight with national carrier Garuda from Jakarta to Amsterdam in 2004. He led a campaign that exposed rights abuses by the military under late dictator Suharto.
Hundreds of Thalib's supporters chanted: "Murderer! Murderer! Murderer!" when the decision was announced, while an opposing group belted out the national anthem.
Thalib's widow, Suciwati, who like many Indonesians uses a single name, was discussing an appeal with prosecutors.
"I have not only lost Munir, I have lost my sense of justice," she said.
Earlier this month, prosecutors demanded a 15-year sentence for Purwoprandjono, saying he had "planned and ordered" Thalib's murder.
But the judges said the evidence had failed to prove their case.
The Supreme Court sentenced a former pilot in January to 20 years in prison for carrying out the murder, overturning an earlier acquittal by a lower court.
Human rights groups and foreign governments have watched the case as a gauge of judicial reform in the transitional democracy, plagued by corrupt courts after more than 32 years of harsh rule that ended in 1998.
"If Indonesia is to move beyond its authoritarian past, the justice system must show that generals are not above the law," Matt Easton of the Human Rights First group said ahead of the decision.


Updated : 2021-06-14 07:53 GMT+08:00