Impunity and lenient sentences for perpetrators responsible for killing Eden Bebari and Ronny Wandik in Mimika

Human rights organisations have been closely following the trials against perpetrators responsible for the killing of Mr Eden Babari and Mr Ronny Wandik in the Mimika Regency on 13 April 2020. The four perpetrators were tried in separate military tribunals because they belonged to different military commands. New developments in the judicial process on both trials underline the persistent problem of impunity in Indonesia. The situation is particularly concerning in the context of human rights violations in West Papua.

The perpetrators received lenient sentences in a verdict delivered by Military Court III-17 Manado, North Sulawesi, on 6 July 2023. Lieutenant Inf Gabriel Bowie Wijaya was sentenced to seven years, while Private Sugi Harnoto received a six-year sentence. Both were dismissed from military service. On 5 September 2023, a panel of Military Oditur III-13 Denpasar judges acquitted Sergeant Vicente De Oliviara and Private Bahari Muhrim of their charges. The judges argued that the defendants had been proven to have committed the crime but acted as a necessary act of “self-defence.”

A Supreme Court verdict overruled the Military Court III-17 Manado court verdict against two of the perpetrators. Lieutenant Inf Gabriel Bowie Wijaya’s sentence was reduced from seven to two years. Private Sugi Harnoto received one year and six months imprisonment instead of six years of the initial verdict. The Military Oditur III-13 Denpasar prosecutor (see top photo, source: screenshot) had withdrawn the appeal against the ruling, which had acquitted both defendants from all charges (see screenshots below). Previously, the prosecutor had requested a two-year sentence and dismissal from the Army despite the severity of the crime.

The Supreme Court verdict, as well as the negligent conduct of the military prosecutor, confirm the widespread climate of impunity.


Impunity is rampant in West Papua and, therefore, remains a crucial issue in tackling human rights violations effectively. Statistical data on sanctions taken against perpetrators of human rights violations among the police and military indicates a slight improvement. However, if one compares the annual case statistics on torture, extra-judicial executions, and enforced disappearances, it becomes evident that the few prosecutions address just the peak of the iceberg. Perpetrators are not held accountable in public trials. Accordingly, the court processes, particularly police internal disciplinary procedures, lack transparency and independence. Moreover, neither military tribunals nor police internal procedures meet the victims’ right to compensation, restitution, and rehabilitation.

Apart from a few positive examples, the perpetrators often receive sentences that are disproportionately lenient with regard to the severity of the crime. Recent military tribunals related to the enforced disappearance and execution of five indigenous Papuans in the regencies Intan Jaya and Mimika illustrate the pressing issue of accountability and impunity in West Papua. The failure to detain defendants and the leniency of sentences in cases of violence against civilians perpetuate a climate of impunity.

Screenshot: Supreme Court verdict against Lieutenant Inf Gabriel Bowie Wijaya and Private Sugi Harnoto

Screenshot: The withdrawal of the appeal against the acquittal of Sergeant Vicente De Oliviara and Private Bahari Muhrim is listed in the top right corner under ‘Status Perkara’