Jakarta. One of Indonesia's most prominent human rights groups has called on President Joko Widodo to revoke a parole order which allowed the murderer of activist Munir Said Thalib to walk free.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), which was founded by Munir to advocate justice for the victims of abuses committed by the state, joined other human rights organizations on Sunday in condemning the early release of Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto.
Putri Kanesia, head Kontras' civil rights division, said the president has the power to overturn the order, which saw Pollycarpus freed on Friday after serving just eight years of a 14-year sentence for the deadly poisoning of Munir in 2004.
"We also urge Jokowi [Joko] to tell the Justice and Human Rights Ministry to not give a remission to Pollycarpus," Putri was quoted as saying by news portal Tribunnews.com.
Pollycarpus was released from Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, on Friday morning. He is now required to report regularly to parole officers and is forbidden to leave the country.
The Justice Ministry’s director general of corrections, Handoyo Sudrajat, confirmed Pollycarpus’s release on Friday and said the newly installed minister, Yasonna.H. Laoly, had signed the parole document after agreeing that Pollycarpus had met the requirements for an early release.
Kontras spokesperson Putri said that all commissions in the House of Representatives (DPR) related to justice and human rights should review Munir's case, which is unsolved.
"We also urge the fact-finding team looking into Munir's murder to publicly disclose the facts that they have found," Putri said.
Munir's life came to a painful end on Sept. 7, 2004, on board a flight to Amsterdam. The 38-year-old was on his way to study international humanitarian law at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Former Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus was seated next to Munir on the flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. The flight included a stop in Singapore to refuel and take on more passengers. Pollycarpus was seen offering Munir a coffee at Singapore’s Changi International Airport. A court later found that this drink had been spiked with arsenic.
Munir reboarded the plane on to Amsterdam while Pollycarpus remained in Singapore. The activist and staunch critic of the Indonesian government and military died in agony before the plane landed in the Netherlands.
A decade later President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed a fact-finding team to look into Munir's death and subsequent police investigation.
Investigators found Pollycarpus had been in close contact with Muchdi Purwoprandjono, then deputy chief of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), before and after the murder.
In their court testimonies, several intelligence officials also said that Pollycarpus often visited the BIN headquarters and met behind closed doors with Muchdi. In at least one of those meetings, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, the BIN chief at the time, was also present.
Hendropriyono is now a senior adviser to the president, who made mention of human rights on the campaign trail, promoting his credentials while pointing to the checkered rights record of opponent, former Army general Prabowo Subianto.
As Pollycarpus did not have a clear motive for the murder, activists have long suggested that he was acting on the orders of his alleged BIN handlers. Muchdi, however, has been acquitted in court, while Hendropriyono has never been prosecuted for his alleged involvement.