Friday, May 6, 2016

Asian Human Rights Commission faults Indonesian leniency in assassination case

The Asian Human Rights Commission has published the following statement about an Indonesian military justice case:
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the trial process into the case of the assassination of Mr. Jopi Teguh Lasmana Peranginangin (39), an environmental activist. Military judges have convicted the defendant with light punishment, and no further consideration has been made for the other military personnel involved in the case. The Military prosecutor, since the beginning of the trial, has only chosen to prosecute one navy personnel and ignored involvement of other accused. According to witnesses, it was four or five personnel who brutally attacked Jopi. 
On 11 April 2016, Military judges of the Military Court II 08 Jakarta convicted Private-in-Charge (Praka) Joko Lestanto, a member of the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (Yon Thaifib Marinir TNI AL), to two years in prison and dishonorable discharge from Navy service. 
The defendant was charged under Article 338 of the Indonesia Penal Code (KUHP), which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The Military prosecutor had however only chosen to prosecute the defendant for up to five years in prison, and now the Military judges have only finally sentenced the defendant to two years in prison. 
The light sentence also proves that investigation undertaken by the Navy Military Police (POMAL) did not meet the standard of proper investigation. Despite many witnesses having stated that more than four people (without uniform) attacked Jopi, the investigation resulted in only one Navy personnel being charged. 
This also indicates that under the Law No. 31 of 1997 on the Military Court, the Court does not apply fair trial principles and, the Court become part of impunity, where serious crimes, such as murder and torture, are sentenced with light punishment, without remedy for the victims. Moreover, the families of victims, in many cases, also face difficulties in accessing the Court. 
Furthermore, we have learned that some cases of criminal offences conducted by Military personnel, under massive media coverage, will be conducted immediately so as ensure that command responsibility of the commander is evaded. 
Considering the recurrence of criminal offences conducted by Military personnel, the Parliament should continue its initiative to amend the Law No. 31 of 1997 on the Military Court. One serious problem in the law is that location and time (locus and tempus) of the criminal offense conducted by the military personnel will not be considered. The Military Court will apply its jurisdiction in any circumstances, even if the victims are civilians and the crime has taken place in a public area. 
The last debate in Parliament concerning amendment of the law on Military Courts was about the role of the Military Prosecutor. Broadly there were two opinions that emerged: the first one is that the prosecution responsibility should be given to the public prosecutor, and if the criminal offense occurs in the public area the case should be tried in the civilian court. The other view stated that the Military Court shall have jurisdiction over any criminal offense conducted by military personnel anywhere.

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