The trial against human rights activist and international spokesperson of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), Mr Victor Yeimo, was continued on 12 January 2023. Security force members heavily guarded the Jayapura District Courtroom, the courtyard, and the surrounding area. KNPB members gathered on the opposite roadside of the court building to participate in a peaceful, silent protest for the release of Victor Yeimo (see photos below, sources: Jubi & independent HRDs).
The judges ordered that Victor Yeimo must be detained throughout the trial. The Papua Coalition of human rights lawyers, Yeimo’s legal counsel, demanded that the indictment be declared null and void. Mr Yeimo’s arrest did not follow criminal procedure, and the indictment did not mention an exact time and site of crime as required under the Indonesian Criminal Procedure Code (KUHAP). They also filed a request, asking the judge to refrain from detention because Mr Yeimo had not fully recovered. The judges declared they had not received the coalition’s request yet. The public prosecutor, Mr Achmad Kobarubun, called upon the judge to reject the lawyers’ demands and proceed with the trial process as usual.
Mr Victor Yeimo spoke about the condition inside his cell at court. The cell was too narrow and would not allow proper air circulation. According to Mr Yeimo, the cell was only equipped with a mattress. Rain enters the cell during heavy rainfalls. These conditions no longer allow for proper recovery from his health problems.
After the trial hearing, Mr Yeimo gave a short interview (see video below).” Racism is a crime, an extraordinary crime. So, I call upon all people against racism to monitor this trial closely. We fight against racism together. There must be no racism in Papua. There must be no racism in the world”, said Yeimo.
The next trial hearing was scheduled for 24 January 2023.
The trial against Mr Yeimo was initially launched at the Jayapura District Court in August 2021 but had to be interrupted because his health significantly deteriorated during detention. Mr Yeimo was suffering from Tuberculosis. Due to growing pressure from Mr Yeimo’s lawyers and the Papuan public, the judges postponed the trial and allowed Mr Yerimo to undergo long-term treatment outside a correctional facility. After almost six months of medical treatment at the public hospital, the judges decided to continue the trial in February 2022.
On 21 February 2022, the public prosecutor charged Viktor Yeimo with treason for his involvement in a demonstration against racism that turned into civil unrest in Jayapura City on 29 August 2019. He used four different articles for the prosecution, namely Article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP)on treason, Article 110 (1), and Article 110 (2) on Criminal conspiracy against the state, as well as Article 160 KUHP on incitement. Treason can carry a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment.
The judges adjourned the trial sine die until Mr Yeimo ‘s health condition would allow the trial to continue.