The trial against Buchtar Tabuni begins

Report from GKI, Christian Evangelical Church

The first hearing in the trial of Buchtar Tabuni (30) opened at the
Jayapura District Court on 18 February 2009. This hearing was devoted to
the presentation of the charge sheet against the accused which was
delivered by prosecutor Maskel Rambolangi SH.

He accused Buchtar of being the coordinator for the International
Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), the evidence being that he had
twice coordinated mass demonstrations at the University of Cenderawasih
campus at Ekspo Waena on 16 October and had delivered political
speeches that were deemed to be a threat to the sovereignty of the
Republic of Indonesia.

Additional evidence consisted of banners on which the following were
written: 'Referendum Yes, Otonomi Khusus (Special Autonomy) No', 'West
Papua Problem is not Indonesia Problem', 'We want to International
dialog' There was also a large poster bearing the flags of the USA, the
UN, the UK, as well as the Dutch and Indonesian flags, with the words:
The UN Invasion of West Papua. We Want Peace.

Buchtar Tabuni was charged under Article 106 of the Criminal Code
regarding subversion, Article 160 of the Criminal Code regarding acts of
incitement and Article 212 of the Criminal Code regarding resisting
personnel of the state.

The judges hearing the case were Manungku P, SH, Hotman Simamora SH and
Lucky R SH. A team of 17 lawyers defending Buchtar Tabuni was also present.

The trial will continue on 25 February when the defence will deliver
their response. At the end of the hearing, Paskalis Letsoin PH called on
the judges to bear in mind the rights of the accused. The hearing was
scheduled to commence at 8.30am but did not commence until 10.00am
because of the late arrival of Judge Maskel Rombolangi SH

In order to guard the courthouse, the Police Force deployed two
companies consisting of 200 Brimob members and anti-riot police, armed
with rifles, under the coordination of the deputy police commander of
Jayapura, Andereas Paru. Members of Brimob searched all those who
attended the hearing.

Paskalis Letsoin, a defence lawyer, asked the police and Brimob to
respect the court hearing by not using such a large number of troops at
future hearings, because this was an act of terror against the accused.

The accused was wearing a brown jacket, not the military attire which he
usually wears when leading demonstrations. His sideburns had been shaved
off and he was clean shaven.

The accused almost fell to the ground when the wheel-chair which had
been provided for his use broke down; it was also very dirty. It had to
be replaced with another chair.

After the hearing, the accused was driven back to Abepura Prison, while
a crowd of about 100 people shouted, 'Long Live Buchtar, Free Buchtar'
The coordinator of this action, Victor Yelmo said that he and his
colleagues would organise a similar demonstration on the occasion of
the next hearing.

Buchtar was arrested on 2 December in connection with a mass
demonstration which he coordinated in support of the International
Parliamentarians for West Papua which took place on 16 October in
London. While Buchtar has survived, a colleague of his, Yosias Syef was
murdered in Sentani District after he had finished distributing leaflets
calling on people to attend the IPWI on 16 October 2008.