Buchtar Tabuni trial proceeds despitedefence team

Buchtar Tabuni trial proceeds despitedefence team objections

Cenderawasih Pos
Abridged in translation by TAPOL

Report from Christian Evangelical Church of the Land of Papua, 11 March 2009

Jayapura: The police announced that they will deploy two special units in anticipation of undesirable incidents that might occur when the hearing in the trial of Buchtar Tabuni continues today. The units will include one unit from Brimob.

[Buchtar who is described in the article as the chair of the IWPW (International Parliamentarians for West Papua) Committee is facing the charge of makar (subversion) for organising a rally in Jayapura in support of the launching of the IPWP in London on 16 October last year.]

The chief of the district police, Roberth Djoenso, said that firm measures will be taken against anyone who breaches the law, if the actions outside the courthouse become anarchistic.

In the previous hearing on 11 March, the team of defence lawyers staged a walk-out after the judges rejected their demurrer arguing that the trial should not proceed, and there were scuffles with the police outside the court when Buchtar Tabuni was seen leaving the court and entering the police van (to be driven back to prison).

According to a report received by TAPOL from GKI Tanah Papua (Christian Evangelical Church of the Land of Papua), the head of the defence team, Petrus Ell, said that they had staged a walk-out in protest against the injustice of the court's decision to proceed with the trial. because they regard the decision as being against justice.'For a very long time, political trials in Papua have been unacceptable but regardless of this, the judges always agree with the charges made by the prosecution.'

When the lawyers walked out, leaving the courtroom empty, Buchtar grabbed hold of a microphone and said: 'I dont accept the decision of the court. The judges must conduct the trial in keeping with justice. We are ready to boycott the elections. All we have is people power.'

He then told the panel of judges that he would not attend the next hearing of the trial (scheduled for 18 March).

The chairman of the judges said in response that regardless of whether the accused was present, the next hearing would go ahead to hear the testimony of the witnesses. Buchtar then left the court, under heavy police guard and was speedily boarded onto the police van.

As he watched this happen (outside the court), Petrus Eli shouted: 'Let him go. Let him go.'

On hearing this, the hundreds of people rallying outside the court started to shout: 'Release Buchtar! Release Buchtar!' The situation could have got very much worse, but others present managed to prevail on the crowd, estimated to amount to 150 people, to calm down. The police officer in charge of about 200 policemen, ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.

Soon afterwards, Victor Yeimo, the chairman of the West Papuan National Committee, made a statement to the press. He called the trial a political farce, and said that it was a provocation intended to stir conflict . He warned the judges, the prosecutor and the police as well as the government to take immediate action to release Buchtar before the forthcoming election on 9 April.

He also protested against the decision to call Ramses Ohee as a witness at the hearing on 18 March. This person was not present at the rally on 16 October last year. Moreover, he described Ohee as a 'red-and-white' leader (meaning pro-Indonesian, after the colours of the Indonesian flag).

Harry Maturbongs, coordinator of Kontras Papua expressed his amazement at the decision of the judges to accept the charge-sheet of the prosecutor which he described as 'unclear, inaccurate amd vague' and full of mistakes. One mistake was that the prosecutor should have given the interrogation verbatim report to the defence lawyers of the accused but had failed to do so.