Indonesian soldiers charged with torture after killing civilian

July 21st, 2011 - 9:39 pm ICT by BNO News  

JAYAPURA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Three Indonesian soldiers were indicted for killing a civilian in the province of Papua, which made international headlines after a torture video was made available on the Internet and showed the soldiers’ brutality, local media reported Thursday.

The three soldiers, who serve in the Army’s Nabire Infantry Battalion, were identified as First Sgt. Saut Sihombing, Second Pvt. Hery Purwanto and Second Pvt. Hasirun. According to the indictment, in March 2010, they accompanied a civilian convoy that was delivering food supplies to Mulia, the capital of Puncak Jaya district, but two civilians were tortured further into the road after the soldiers suspected them of being members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM), the Jakarta Globe reported.

One of the civilians, identified as Kinderman Gire, was killed after the violent beating and shooting near a military checkpoint in the village of Illu. The incident occurred on March 17, 2010, just two weeks prior to a similar incident in the village of Gurage.

According to court documents, Kinderman, stopped the convoy near Kalome village and tried to extort gasoline from the driver of one of the convoy’s vehicles. First Sgt. Saut then exited his vehicle, and Kinderman said, “I am not afraid of the military. I have 30 friends in the mountains and they are armed.”

Kinderman’s words sparked suspicion from the soldiers that he was a member of the OPM. The soldiers later began interrogating him and another civilian who he was with, Pitinus Kogoya. The situation escalated into a brutal beating that was captured on video and later uploaded on the online video website Youtube last October. Pitinus was later able to escape after jumping down a river levee.

During the incident, documents from the military court said that Kinderman tried to reach out and grab Second Pvt. Hery’s rifle, but he reacted by firing at the civilian, striking him directly in the chest and killing him instantly.

After reporting the incident to their superior, who in turn told the three soldiers to not speak about the shooting to anyone, they transported Kinderman’s body in their vehicle and later dumped it in a river in the Tingginambut subdistrict.

Regarding the Army’s suspicion of Kinderman’s association with the OPM, the Papua Customary Council (DAP) disagreed, saying he was a local priest and had no ties to the separatist group. DAP’s Markus Haluk said thousands of innocent civilians are being accused of being part of the OPM in order to justify their military violence, torture, and killings.

Military prosecutor Captain Jem C.H. Manibuy charged the three soldiers with torture. In November, four other soldiers were sentenced for torturing two civilians in the village of Gurage in the same district.

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