Justice Minister in Face-Saving Exercise Over Munir Killer's Parole

Activists strongly condemn the parole of Pollycarpus Budihari Prijanto. (Antara Photo/Novrian Arbi)

By : Jakarta Globe | on 8:34 PM December 05, 2014
Category : News, Human Rights

Jakarta. Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly attempted to defuse criticism of his decision to release the murderer of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib on Friday, saying he had reprimanded the officials who recommended former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto for parole.

"I will send him back [to prison] if he breaks the law," Yasonna said on Friday.

Pollycarpus was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison, later reduced to 14 years on appeal.

He offered Munir a coffee at Singapore’s Changi International Airport while the 38-year-old activist was on a layover before continuing to Amsterdam. A court later found that this drink had been spiked with arsenic. Munir died before the plane landed.

The decision to release a convicted murder of a human rights activist after serving just eight years was roundly condemned by Munir's supporters and human rights organizations.

"When [Pollycarpus] was about to be released I was honestly surprised," Yasonna said, adding that he had reprimanded the warden of Bandung's Sukamiskin penitentiary and the head of the West Java office of the ministry for granting Pollycarpus parole without consulting him.

Yasonna could have declined to sign the document authorizing parole for Pollycarpus. It is understood he felt his hands had been tied by the earlier move by the warden and provincial ministry chief.

"This is a high-profile case so the head of the regional office and the chief warden should have reported it to me first," Yasonna said. "They were being insensitive, so I scolded them."

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