'Not enough evidence' in Papua torture case

'Not enough evidence' in Papua torture case

The Australian, 4 December 2010

By: Peter Alford, Jakarta correspondent


PRESIDENT Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's officials insist that soldiers responsible for a vicious torture incident in West Papua will be brought to justice.

The military administration says, however, its investigation is at a standstill.

The Defence Ministry says there isn't enough evidence to prosecute the case, in which six TNI soldiers were videoed torturing two civilians in Puncak Jaya district on May 30.

"We have processed the first case (an earlier, less extreme filmed incident, for which four soldiers were punished last month), but in the second case there's not enough evidence; there's no witnesses," Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier General I Wayan Midhio said.

"The two videos were investigated together - one can be brought to justice and the other cannot."

However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene repeated yesterday that Dr Yudhoyono had "made it very clear this case is unacceptable . . . we will continue to ensure this case is thoroughly investigated".

Julia Gillard, who on the eve of her visit here last month accepted his assurance of a "full and transparent investigation" - and a warning that other governments should not interfere - also continues to profess confidence in Dr Yudhoyono. The Prime Minister told reporters yesterday "he personally wants to see the appropriate action taken about this matter. He wants to see any wrongdoers brought to justice."

However, the Australian and US embassies in Jakarta, since Ms Gillard's visit, have told senior Indonesian officials of their government's unhappiness with the military's investigation of the shocking May 30 incident.

In the video, apparently taken from a TNI mobile phone and later shown around the world on YouTube, one of the two tortured civilians, farmer Tunaliwor Kiwo, had his genitals burnt.

Mr Kiwo escaped the soldiers three days later and has been in hiding since, although he has given accounts of his ordeal to Komnas Ham, the Indonesian Commission on Human Rights and the Papuan Customary Council.

Komnas Ham's Papuan team is independently investigating the Puncak Jaya incident.

"As long as they have the will, the problem is technical and we can help," said team leader Matus Murib, who interviewed Mr Kiwo this week.