Update on law enforcement process: Police officers arrest last suspect involved in mutilation of four Papuans in Mimika

Police officers arrested Mr Roy Marten Howay in his parent’s house in the Wania District, Mimika Regency, on 8 October 2022. He is accused of being involved in the mutilation of four indigenous Papuans in the Town of Timika on 22 August 2022. The police and military police arrested six military personnel and three civilians on 30 August 2022. Mr Howay was able to avoid arrest and had been in hiding since.

During Hiding, Mr Roy Marten Howay published two video confessions which quickly spread on social media (see photo below). In the first video, he denied any involvement in the killing and mutilation of the four victims. According to the testimony, Mr Howay only established contact between one of the civilian suspects named Andre Pudjianto Lee alias ‘Jack’ and the four victims for the illegal trade of two fire automatic firearms. He was promised a commission for finding buyers. Mr Howay declared he witnessed the weapons transaction at Budi Utomo Street in the SP1 area and left the location with his motorcycle after completing the transaction.

Screenshot of Mr Howay’s video testimonies (source: Jubi)

In this second video, Roy Marten Howay stated that the killing and mutilation of the four Papuans from Nduga was not the first killing committed by the perpetrators. Mr Howay explained he had seen photos and videos of other mutilated victims on one of the civilian suspect’s mobile phone. According to him, ‘Jack’ had already killed people and mutilated other victims around Timika City, most of them indigenous Papuans.

Responding to the first video, the head of information of Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih, Colonel Kav Herman Taryaman, said Mr Howay’s statement did not match the facts obtained by investigators. The police are currently investigating the truth behind the testimonies.

Meanwhile, there has been a public discussion on how the case should be processed. The military wants to try the six soldiers in a closed military tribunal in the distant city of Makassar, Sulawesi Selatan Province. In contrast, the civilian defendants will be tried at a civilian court. In contrast, the Papuan Parliament (DPRP) and the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) have called upon the military prosecutor in charge to hold all defendants accountable in a ‘Koneksitas’ trial, a joint military-civilian court.

Both military and civilian law enforcement agencies are involved in the criminal investigation, prosecution, and trial. The joint military-civilian court is established if military personnel and civilian perpetrators commit a criminal offense. A prominent human rights case under the joint military-civilian court concerned the trial of 24 military personnel and one civilian perpetrator implicated in the mass killing of Aceh Muslim cleric, Tengku Bantaqiyah, and around 50 of his followers in July 1999.

This court aimed to close the accountability gap between military tribunals and the civilian jurisdiction, and later as an avenue for the military to avoid a more independent human rights court system. In November 2020, Komnas HAM recommended that a joint military and civilian court be established to resolve the murder case of Rev. Yeremia Zanambani in the Nduga Regency.