No right to fair trial for Papuan defendants in Maybrat – Judges hand down two more long-term prison sentences

Judges at the Sorong District Court handed down two more long-term prison sentences in relation to the attack against the Kisor Military Post in the Maybrat Regency on 2 September 2021.  Four Indonesian soldiers were killed during the incident. On 3 February 2023, Mr Melkias Ky (see photo on top, source: Suara Papua) was found guilty of being involved in the attack and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. The judges handed down a slightly more lenient sentence of 15 years to Mr Abraham Fatemte on 14 February 2023. Both verdicts add up to a series of earlier verdicts against indigenous Papuans from the Maybrat Regency. At least one of the defendants sentenced is a minor.

Human rights lawyers claim that all nine defendants were arbitrarily arrested, subjected to torture and found guilty despite insufficient and unlawful evidence presented at court. The lawyers believe that the verdicts were not based on legal justice but politically biased.   

Trial against Mr Melkias Key (Trial number: 244/Pid.B/2022/PN Son)

The public prosecutor had demanded a life-term prison sentence for Mr Melkias Ky in early January 2023. The judges represented the view that the facts at court had proven Mr Ky’s engagement in the premeditated murder of the four soldiers as regulated under article 340 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP). Both, the public prosecutor and the defendant, appealed against the verdict of 20 years imprisonment.

Mr Yohanis Mambrasar, lawyer of the Papuan Association of Human Rights Advocats (Paham Papua) expressed disappointment regarding the judgement. He declared that “the verdict was not based on legal justice principles and lacked sense of justice for the people.[…] The facts in court illustrate that not even one piece of the evidence – neither witness or expert testimonies, letters, nor hints – had legally and convincingly proven that Melkias Ky was among the perpetrators.”

In fact, only one out of six military members examined in court could identify Mr Ky as one of the perpetrators. The witness, Mr Imanuel Wenatubun, claimed he saw Melkias Ky at the site of crime. However, the testimony was in contradiction with his witness testimonies during previous trials against the other defendants, and can therefore not be regarded as truthful.

All crown witnesses had withdrawn their incriminating testimonies in the police reports in court, saying they were beaten and electrocuted. The police members were forcing them to sign confessions and provide them with names.

Trial against Mr Abraham Fatemte (Trial number: 255/Pid.B/2022/PN Son)

On 27 January 2023, the public prosecutor had demanded an imprisonment sentence of 20 years for Mr Abraham Fatemte (see photo on the left, source: PAHAM Papua). Judges found him guilty of violating Article 340 KUHP on premeditated murder and sentenced him to 15 years imprisonment.

His lawyers say that Mr Fatemte (20 years) was arbitrarily arrested on 24 March 2022 and prosecuted despite a lack of sufficient evidence. Mr Fatemte’s testified that he and his wife stayed in Maluku Province as the attack in Kisor took place. He had accompanied his wife there in April 2021 to give birth to their first child (see video testimony below, source: PAHAM Papua). The family returned to Sorong in December 2021. The lawyers criticised the police and the public prosecutor in Sorong for processing the case against Abraham Fatem Te despite the lack of two pieces of incriminating evidence, as required under Article 17 of the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP).

According to PAHAM Papua lawyers, the verdict was entirely based on witness testimonies presented by the public prosecutor without considering differing testimonies by exculpatory witnesses. The military members Mr Catur Prasetyo, Mr Edmon Freyuk Hukubun, and Mr Roland Jonathan Hindom claimed they saw Mr Fatemte at the site of crime as the attack occurred. All exonerating witness testimonies by exculpatory witnesses presented by the lawyers in court were considered as untruthful.

Moreover, the panel of judges ignored that the crown witnesses, Mr Melkias Ky, Maikel Yaam, and Robianus Yaam had provided false information on their client in the police report. All later withdrew their police testimonies because they were tortured and forced to sign confessions. In their verdict, the judges echoed the testimony of the police investigator, saying there was no coercion and violence against the crown witnesses during the police examination. They represented the view that testimonies of the crown witnesses as outlined in the police report were conveyed honestly.

Mr Abraham Fatemte: Video testimony, recorded on 08.02.2023

“My name is Abraham fatemte. I am a victim of false arrest in relatuion to the attack on the Kisor Military Post on 2 September 2021. I was not there as the incident occrured. I was in Tua awith my pregnant wife. My with gave birth to child there. I am calling upon friends and the people outside to support my case and advocate this trial. thank you”

Mr Abraham Fatemte during detention

2 thoughts on “No right to fair trial for Papuan defendants in Maybrat – Judges hand down two more long-term prison sentences”

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