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By Lindsay Murdoch Sydney Morning Herald Correspondent in Jakarta

JAKARTA, Indonesia (December 11, 2001 – Sydney Morning Herald)---Theys Eluay, a pro-independence leader in Indonesia's troubled province of Irian Jaya, was abducted and murdered during the weekend. The flamboyant veteran politician, who was facing charges of subversion, appeared to have been strangled. He was found yesterday in his minivan along an isolated road, with his hands tied behind his back.

National police spokesman Saleh Saaf said in Jakarta that the killers apparently attempted to make the murder look like a traffic accident by trying to push the van into a 50-meter (165-foot) ravine, but a tree prevented the van from falling. Observers said Eluay's murder will heighten tensions in Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, where security forces have been cracking down on pro-independence groups.

As news of his death emerged about 200 angry supporters gathered outside Eluay's home in Sentani yesterday, a spokesman for the West Papua Institute for Human Rights in the provincial capital, Jayapura, said.

Later they attacked and burned shops owned by residents who had moved to the province from other parts of Indonesia.

Another independence leader, Willy Mandowen, confirmed Eluay's death, saying Eluay's son Boy had identified the body. Eluay's lawyer, Anum Siregar, said it appeared Eluay had been tortured, as his body -- expected to be taken to Jayapura for an autopsy -- was badly bruised.

Local media also reported that Eluay's face was black and his tongue disgorged. Eluay was abducted by unidentified men late on Saturday night as he was driving from Jayapura to his home in nearby Sentani. His driver, Ari Masoka, who has since disappeared, managed to telephone Mr. Eluay's wife and told her of the abduction about 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Jayapura, a family friend, Yan Rumaseuw said. He quoted Mrs. Eluay as saying the abductors were non-Irianese.

Eluay was chairman of the pro-independence Papua Presidium, which last year declared Papua was never lawfully part of Indonesia. Five members of the Presidium, including Eluay, were then charged with subversion and were on trial in Jayapura.

Eluay was a controversial figure, who represented the province in the national parliament for almost three decades. In 1969 he voted in a United Nations plebiscite that the former Dutch territory be incorporated into Indonesia. But after the fall of Suharto in 1998 he became the province's most prominent pro-independence leader, claiming he voted under duress and often declaring in interviews that he was willing to be jailed or die for the cause.

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (November 11, 2001 – Jakarta Post)---Papuan separatist leader Theys Eluay was found dead in his abandoned car near the Papua New Guinea border on Sunday, less than 24 hours after his reported abduction, Antara reported.

Theys, who was undergoing a trial for his separatist campaign in a court in Jayapura, was found inside his Kijang car on the road near the border town of Skouw, an Antara reporter said.

Marks of wounds were found around his wrists and there was dry blood on his body, the reporter said, adding that police and investigators were already on the scene.

Some of the car windows were shattered and the car appeared to have hit a tree and stopped 50 meters (165 feet) short of a ravine.

Theys, the chairman of the Papuan Presidium Council, had been on trial along with three other presidium members, on charges of subversion.

They were accused of fanning separatist sentiments when they organized a massive congress in April last year in which they demanded a referendum for self determination for the people in Irian Jaya, or Papua as the territory is now unofficially called.

Although on trial, the four were not under police arrest. The court trial had been scheduled to resume on Monday.

The House of Representatives in Jakarta last month passed a new law granting sweeping autonomy for Papua. But many separatist leaders said the law was not enough and they insisted on independence from Jakarta.

Theys was traveling from Jayapura, capital of the province, to Sentani -- some 45 kilometers (27 miles) -- when he was abducted by a group of unidentified men on Saturday night. His driver, who was dumped by the kidnapers, reported the abduction to his wife, who in turn notified the police.

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