We acted out of fury, Papua torture suspects say

We acted out of fury, Papua torture suspects say
, 9 November 2010

By: Nethy Dharma Somba

Three Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers on trial for allegedly torturing Papuan civilians have testified they kicked and beat captives out of anger.

“We were furious because they refused to tell us where they stashed the weapons,” defendant Joko Sulistyo told judge Lt. Col. CHK Adil K in a trial hearing based on a video that showed soldiers beating indigenous Papuans, at the Jayapura Military Tribunal on Monday.

The first hearing of the case drew criticism Friday when activists discovered that the subject matter of the case was not a shocking torture video released last month that showed soldiers burning the genitals of an indigenous Papuan, as had been hinted at, but rather a video showing far less severe forms of torture. The activists called the alleged bait and switch “misleading” and “farcical”.

It had been reported the tribunal would address a video uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 17, which sparked a global outcry for the violence it depicted. Instead, the video discussed was a far milder one released on March 17.

Monday’s trial heard that the soldiers assaulted the victims, thought to be members of the outlawed Free Papua Movement (OPM), when questioning them about the whereabouts of an OPM weapons stash.

In the video, the court heard, Joko assaulted the captives first. He is seen dealing out two kicks, and then Syaminan Lubis deals out two kicks and hits one of the captives with a helmet. Dwi Purwanto, also a soldier, kicked the captives more than twice.

The three defendants expressed remorse and promised not to repeat the offense.

“As a result of your misdeeds, the image of the TNI, especially the Army, has been tarnished. You carried out the act without orders from your superiors, and out of anger,” Adil said.

Another defendant, Cosmos K, said he had ordered witness Isak to record the incident as a personal document.

After capturing the video on a cell phone, Cosmos later copied it to a laptop. The cell phone broke a month later and was brought to Mulia city for repair. Cosmos did not delete the data on his cell phone.