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Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sydney, Australia

December 1, 2001

In Indonesia’s troubled Papua (Irian Jaya) province, separatists have vowed to avoid clashes with police and soldiers today as they mark the fortieth anniversary of their independence struggle.

Hamish Robertson: In Indonesia’s troubled Papua province, separatists have vowed to avoid clashes with police and soldiers today as they mark the fortieth anniversary of their independence struggle.

Anti-Jakarta sentiment is running high in the province after the killing of independence leader Chief Theys Eluay three weeks ago. Separatist leaders have accused the Indonesian military of ordering his murder, while police have been criticized for the slow pace of carrying out an investigation. And there are concerns they may never get to the bottom of the case.

Mark Bowling now reports from Jakarta:

Mark Bowling: On Saturday night November 10, Theys Eluay attended a reception in the Papuan capital Jayapura. It was held at the base of the Indonesian Special Forces’ unit, known as Kopassus. On the drive home he went missing.

But his driver had managed to tell Eluay’s family in a brief mobile telephone call that they had been abducted by a group he described as non-Papuans.

Theys Eluay’s body was found the following day in a crashed car. An autopsy showed he died suspiciously due to strangulation.

The driver, Aristotle Musok, would be a key witness, if police could find him. But he has never been found.

According to an investigation released by the Jayapura-based Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, the driver is in Kopassus hands.

John Rumbiak from the institute says that conclusion is based on creditable accounts:

John Rumbiak: I witnessed this, that we interviewed, at the headquarters of the Kopassus, all the Nari civilians who were involved in organizing the reception that night confirmed to us that they saw the driver was taken in by the Kopassus members that night. The key eyewitness, Aristotle, is still alive and in the hands of the Kopassus.

Mark Bowling: Police have interviewed 37 witnesses, and claim, among those witnesses several might have been behind the killing of Theys Eluay.

But police have admitted their investigation was being hampered by another institution and that they were coming up against a brick wall following up statements made by witnesses.

John Rumbiak again:

John Rumbiak: The police acknowledged to us that they are so scared to conduct this investigation because they say that it has enforced what they call us (in quotes) "professional people," which we believe what they mean here as Kopassus.

Mark Bowling: This would make it very difficult, would it not, to ever get to the bottom of the case?

John Rumbiak: The police are obliged to protect the eyewitnesses.

Mark Bowling: Human rights groups have called for the Indonesian government to appoint an independent investigation team.

Emotions in Papua province are running high over Theys Eluay’s killing. Many believe the death of their independence leader signals the start of another Indonesian military crackdown to try and wipe out the separatist movement after a four-decade struggle.

This is Mark Bowling in Jakarta for Saturday A.M.

For additional reports from ABC Australia News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/ABC News Online.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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