Trial Update: Prosecutor demands four-year imprisonment sentence for highest-ranking military member involved in killing and mutilation of four Papuans

Two separate trials against six Indonesian army members responsible for the killing of four indigenous Papuans in the town of Timika, Papua Tengah Province, on 22 August 2022 go on (see photos, source: Jubi & Paham Papua). Four civilian defendants continue to wait for the trial process in a public court. On 19 January 2023, the military prosecutor demanded four years imprisonment for the defendant Major (Inf) Helmanto Fransiskus Dakhi. Major Dakhi is the highest-ranking army member among the defendants. The demand for four years was a slap in the face of the victim’s relatives, who demand justice for losing their beloved ones.

The trial against five members of the Brigif R20/IJK/3 Timika Military Command, namely Captain Dominggus Kainama, Private Rahmat Amin Sese, Private Risky Oktav Muliawan, Private Robertus Putra Clinsman, and Private Pargo Rumbouw, was already launched on 12 December 2022. Major Dakhi was processed in a separate trial due to his higher rank. In contrast to the other defendants affiliated with the military, the military trial against him was launched at the Military High Court III in Surabaya, Java Timur Province, while the other defendants are standing trial at the Military Court III-19 in Jayapura. The examination of witnesses in the case was moved to Military Court III-19 Jayapura because most of the witnesses in the murder and mutilation case live in Papua.

Relatives and human rights defenders expressed heavy disappointment regarding the lenient sentence demanded by the prosecutor. The director of the Papuan Association of Human Rights Lawyers (Paham Papua), Mr Gustaf Kawer, declared “This hurts the sense of justice for the victims. How can the sadistic murder of four victims be charged with the article on trading with stolen goods? I think there is no correlation with the evidence. First, the charges hurt the victim’s sense of justice. Second, the judicial institutions appear to protect the perpetrators.”

Mr Kawer questions the Military Oditur’s indictment, which uses Article 480 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP) on purchasing or selling stolen goods as the primary charge. The indictment mentions Article 365 KUHP on theft with violence as a subsidiary charge. Article 340 KUHP on premeditated murder was listed as an even more subsidiary charge. Mr Kawer stressed that the composition of the indictment by the prosecutor places purchasing or selling stolen goods higher than the premeditated murder charge.

The trial revealed that on 19 August 2022, Major Dakhi was involved in planning the crime. He knew about the killing, the mutilation of the victims, and the disappearance of the bodies in the river. He also received money distributed among the perpetrators on 23 August 2022, one day after the murder.

Two of the victims’ relatives testified in court on 18 January 2023. Both underlined that the victims were not affiliated with the armed resistance. They demanded justice for the killing of their relatives and called upon the judges to impose the most severe verdict possible. One of the relatives, Mr Aptoro Lokbere, said, “I followed the entire reconstructions at the crime scene. It appears that the defendant Major Dakhi was involved in all stages of the crime. Indeed, he was not present at the time of the incident, but he monitored the others, starting from the first site of the crime to the handover of weapons at the Brigif Raider 20/Ima Jaya Keramo Headquarters”.

The next court session was scheduled for Friday, 20 January 2023.

The trial against the other defendants with the agenda of the prosecutor’s demands for defendant Private Rahmat Amin Sese was adjourned. The next court hearing on 30 January 2030 will examine a weapons expert.

Background

According to the police investigators, the perpetrators lured Mr Irian Nirigi, Mr Arnold Lokbere, Mr Atis Tini, and Mr Limaniol Nirigi into an ambush, pretending to sell two AK 47 automatic machine guns for a price of 250 million rupiahs (about € 16,800) to them. After receiving the money, they shot dead the four men and subsequently removed the heads and feet from the bodies. The incident occurred on 22 August 2022.

They packed the bodies in four bags. The heads and the legs were stored separately in bags. The heads and other body parts have not been found yet. All bags were filled with stones to prevent them from floating up. The bags with the body parts were dumped into the Lopong River near the Pigapu Village in the Iwaka District. Police members of the Kuala Kencana Sub-district police reportedly found and evacuated the first body parts on 26 August 2022.

A military trial (trial number 404-K/PM.III-19/AD/XII/2022) against five members of the Brigif R20/IJK/3 Timika Military Command, namely Captain Dominggus Kainama, Private Rahmat Amin Sese, Private Risky Oktav Muliawan, Private Robertus Putra Clinsman, and Private Pargo Rumbouw, has been launched at the III-19 Military Court in Jayapura on 12 December 2022.

On 24 December 2022, the defendant, Captain Dominggus Kainama, reportedly passed away during detention. According to information by the spokesperson of the XVII/Cenderawasih military command, Colonel Herman Taryaman, Captain Kainama died due to a heart attack. He was still admitted to the Dian Harapan Hospital in Jayapura.

The case also drew attention on an international level. In her Global Update statement on 12 September 2022, the UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs Nada Al-Nashif, declared, “ I am shocked by recent reports of the dismembered bodies of four indigenous Papuan civilians found outside Timika in West Papua Province on 22 August. I note the Government’s initial efforts to investigate, including arresting at least six military personnel, and urge a thorough, impartial, and independent investigation, holding those responsible to account.”

Military court trials in Jayapura