The human rights court trial in relation to the Paniai Massacre of 2014 (see photo on top, source: JPIC Kingmi Papua) will be launched at the Makassar District Court on 21 September 2022. A panel of four judges will lead the trial. The panel of judges will consist of four ad hoc judges: former national human rights commissioner, Mrs Siti Noor Laila; legal analyst, Mr Robert Pasaribu; lecturer, Mrs Sofi Rahmadewi; and lawyer, Mr Anselmus Aldrin Rangga Masiku. The trial will be held against Major inf. Isak Sattu. He is a retired military member and former Liaison Officer (Pabung) of the 1705/Paniai Military District Command (Kodim). He also coordinated military activities at the 1705-02 Military Command in the town of Enarotali, where the massacre occurred.
Mr Isak Sattu has been charged with Article 42 (1) in conjunction with Article 9a in conjunction with Article 7b and Article 40 in conjunction with Article 9h in conjunction with Article 7b of the Indonesian Law No 26/2000 on the Human Rights Courts. The articles carry a minimum punishment of ten and a maximum of twenty years imprisonment if the court process proves the defendant’s engagement in a crime against humanity.
Previously human rights defenders in Indonesia raised concerns regarding the selection of ad-hoc judges. At least two elected ad hoc judges are believed to bear a potential conflict of interest. One of them is alleged to have a background as a military instructor, while another ad-hoc judge has a close family relationship with a prosecutor.
Previously, human rights observers and the victim’s relatives expressed disappointment over the investigation into the human rights case because the investigators of the General Attorney’s Office had identified only one suspect. In June 2022, the victims’ relatives signed a joint statement declaring their rejection of the law enforcement process at the human rights court in Makassar. They understand the outcome of the law enforcement process as proof of the government’s lack of sincere commitment to settling gross human rights violations and declared that none of them will attend or testify at the trial. They underlined their rejection in a receint statement, dating 14 September 2022 (see photos and video statement below).
The Paniai massacre occurred in the Paniai Regency on 8 December 2014. Joint security force members opened fire at a group of Papuan protesters, resulting in the death of four minors and leaving 21 protesters injured. One of the victims, Mr Yulius Yeimo, passed away on 1 April 2018 due to multiple health problems he sustained after being tortured by military members in relation to the incident.
On 3 December 2021, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) gave the official order to form a team of 22 prosecutors under the lead of the Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes to investigate allegations of gross human rights violations in the Paniai regency, Papua Province. The investigators examined as many as 50 persons consisting of seven civilians, eighteen police officers, and 25 military personnel.
Apart from the 2014 Paniai Case, the Attorney General instructed the team to accelerate the processing of other allegations of gross human rights violations in Indonesia. Ali Mukartono, the Lead Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes, explained that his team would also follow up on the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66, the Petrus killing (1982-85 Mysterious Shooting), the 1989 Talangsari case in Lampung, the tragedy at the Aceh Geudong House 1990-99, 1997-98 activist kidnappings, the Trisakti shootings, Semanggi shootings, the May 1998 riots, and the 1999 Simpang KKA case.
Since 2002, the twelve case files have been passed back and forth between Komnas HAM and the attorney General’s office without making any progress in prosecuting the perpetrators.