Polycarpus Budihari Priyanto (Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)1.

Pollycarpus, Convicted Murderer of Rights Activist Munir, Dies from Coronavirus


OCTOBER 17, 2020

Jakarta. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who has spent a jail term for murdering prominent human rights activist Munir Said Thalib, died at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta on Saturday afternoon at the age of 59.

The former pilot of national carrier Garuda Indonesia has earlier tested positive for coronavirus and was admitted to the hospital 16 days ago.

His lawyer, Wirawan Adnan, confirmed that he died from the virus.

“After fighting the disease for 16 days, he succumbed to the virus,” Wirawan told Tempo news website.

Pollycarpus was found guilty by the Supreme Court for the Sept. 7, 2004 murder of Munir, the founder of non-governmental rights group Kontras.

Munir, who was very critical of the military concerning the abductions of students and activists during the Soeharto era, died at the age of 39 on-board a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam. He was on his way to join a master's program in the Netherlands, but was poisoned with a lethal dose of arsenic during a stopover in Singapore. 

Munir was the executive director of Imparsial, another human rights group, at the time of his death.

Pollycarpus was off-duty during the flight but he was aboard the plane as “extra crew”. He offered his business seat to Munir, leading to suspicions of his role in the murder.

The murder case prompted a lengthy legal battle and complicated court decisions that exposed Indonesia’s unpredictable judiciary system.

Pollycarpus was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 14 years in jail in December 2005. In the following year, the Supreme Court acquitted him of the murder conviction, citing lack of evidence, but handed him two years’ imprisonment for document forgery.

Claiming that they have new evidence against him, prosecutors requested a case review in 2007 and was accepted by the Supreme Court. As a result, the murder conviction was reinstated and Pollycarpus was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

The convict also lodged a case review request and the highest court reduced his prison term to 14 years in 2013. A year later, he was granted a parole.

Former Garuda cabin crew member Rohainil Aini was jailed for a year for being an accessory to the murder.

However, the alleged mastermind behind the murder, former deputy of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Muchdi Purwoprandjono, was acquitted of all charges on the New Year eve of 2008.