Tabuni trial to go ahead despite lawyers objections

Tabuni trial to go ahead despite lawyers objections

Cenderawasih Pos, 12 March 2009

Abridged in translation by TAPOL

There were scuffles between many dozens of protesters and the police outside the court where Buchtar Tabuni is on trial for an incident in Jayapura on 16 October 2008.

(Alarmingly, it is referred to in the article as 'kasus makar' ie. subversion case. The defendant is on trial for having organised a demonstration in support of the launching of International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London last October.)

The police confronting the protestors included Brimob troops (the most ferocious units within the police force). The scuffles began when the crowd of around one hundred saw Buchtar being escorted to a van of the prosecutor. The crowd said that they wanted to meet Buchtar and called for his release, but the police carrying shields and wielding truncheons pushed them back, warning them not to approach the van. As the crowd became more emotional, some people within their ranks tried to calm them down,while the police formed a cordon around the van.

A leader of the National Action Committee of the West Papuan People, Viktor Yemo, told journalists: 'The decisions by the prosecutor and the judges have led to strong emotions which could result in a prolonged conflict in Papua.'

Inside the court, the panel of judges read out their 30-page decision rejecting the eksepsi (demurrer) presented by the lawyers of the defendant, headed by Pieter Eli SH. (The eksepsi had presented reasons for the trial not to proceed.) The judges instructed the prosecution to present six witnesses so as to be able to analyse the case in which Buchtar is being charge with subversion.

Upon hearing the decision of the judges, the defence team gathered up their papers and walked out of the courtroom. During the session Buchtar said he wanted to be able to meet his defence team and also called on the judges to drop the charges and release him. 'It is wrong for you to be trying me because I am not guilty of anything,' he said.

[The report as received cuts off in the middle of a sentence and does not say when the next hearing will take place.]