MILITARY DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN THEYS' MURDER

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (December 4, 2001 – Jakarta Post/Joyo Indonesian News/TAPOL)---Trikora Regional Military Commander Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon dismissed on Tuesday allegations that members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) were involved in the murder of Papua Presidium Council (PDP) leader Theys Hiyo Eluay early last month.

"We immediately conducted an investigation following rumors of TNI members' involvement in the murder. But there is no indication that soldiers were involved," Mahidin was quoted by Antara as saying on the sidelines of a plenary meeting of top and regional military commanders at Army Headquarters.

Trikora Regional Military Command oversees Irian Jaya province.

The two-star general said there was no such instruction from the TNI chief or the Trikora Military commander to kill Theys, who had long been loyal to the government but had recently become critical and had become a prominent advocate for Irian Jaya independence.

He said that the Trikora Military Command fully supported the investigation into the murder.

"I let the Irian Jaya Police question my men. There has been no such attempt to obstruct the investigation, as I want this case completely settled," he said.

Meanwhile, National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar told a House of Representatives Commission II hearing, regarding political and legal affairs, that the police were looking for Aristoteles, Theys' driver, a key witness in the case.

"The police have looked as far as Papua New Guinea for Aristoteles. They have also questioned 45 civilians and seven Army members as witnesses," he said.

The police have also requested that the National Military Police be involved in a joint investigation into the murder, and the TNI chief has instructed the Trikora Military Police Command to join the team.

"But the military investigators and the joint investigative team will work only if military members were involved in the murder," Da'i said.

Paul Barber TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 25 Plovers Way, Alton Hampshire GU34 2JJ Tel/Fax: 01420 80153 Email: plovers@gn.apc.org  Internet: www.gn.apc.org/tapol 

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