MEGAWATI ORDERS ACCURATE PROBE INTO PAPUA PRO-INDEPENDENCE LEADER THEYS'

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DEATH

By Annastashya Emmanuelle and R.K. Nugroho

JAKARTA, Indonesia (February 23. 2002 - Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---President Megawati Sukarnoputri has given a three-month deadline to the National Investigation Commission (KPN) to investigate the murder of Papua pro-independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay, despite opposition from the local elite, especially religious leaders.

The head of the commission, Koesparmono Irsan, said Megawati called on Thursday for an honest and accurate investigation and warned the team against working only to confirm or refute public opinion concerning Theys' death.

"The President didn't specifically mention the alleged involvement of Kopassus in Theys’ murder, but it is an example of public opinion," Koesparmono told reporters on Thursday after his meeting with President Megawati.

Earlier investigations by Papua police and Army headquarters concluded that certain military elements are behind Theys' murder.

Theys was found dead in his Kijang van on Nov. 11, hours after he had attended a National Heroes Day commemoration at the Jayapura headquarters of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus). Autopsy reports showed that he died from suffocation.

Theys' driver, Aristoteles Masoka, who escaped and reported the abduction, disappeared shortly after.

Koesparmono said the investigation team was to depart for Jayapura on Sunday to follow up the preliminary evidence they received from the National Commission on Human Rights and the National Police. The team will also receive reports from the military police investigating the case, Koesparmono said.

Meanwhile, the military police team has reportedly completed its investigation into the case, but was not available to confirm the possibility of soldiers being involved in the murder.

Col. Sutarna, Chief of Military Police at Trikora Military Command overseeing Irian Jaya, said the team returned to Jakarta on Thursday, taking with it the investigation's results for further analysis.

"The team made much progress in the investigation, but I have no authority to reveal it to the press," Sutarna told The Jakarta Post in the Papuan capital of Jayapura on Friday.

The 12-member team, which spent 21 days in Jayapura, questioned 93 people as witnesses, including 34 from the Kopassus unit and six others from the military command.

Sutarna, who accompanied the team in the city, said the team, which was initially led by military police chief Maj. Gen. Djasri Marin and later by Col. Hendardji, would draw up its conclusion of the investigation after analyzing its results in Jakarta.

"Most important is that the military police achieved much progress needed to determine who was behind the murder," he said.

Commenting on the possible involvement of Kopassus members in Theys' murder, Djasri said no proof of it had been found.

"It remains an indication, which could be right or not," Djasri told reporters.

Koesparmono said that on its first visit, the KPN team would mainly investigate the cause of death and establish a regional team, comprising elements from the police, the military police and the prosecutor's office, to conduct the formal investigation.

"A regional team is necessary because the KPN does not have the authority to draw up dossiers for the trial," Koesparmono said.

He said KPN had no plan thus far to replace the two Papuan representatives who have withdrawn from the team, as the remaining nine commission members were confident they could continue to perform their duties well.

Papuan officials and religious figures contested the inclusion of the military and police in the KPN due to concerns that their presence would prevent the team from doing its job in a fair and objective manner.

Karl Lucas Degey and Simon Petrus Morin, two Papuan legislators of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and the Golkar Party who were on the team, objected to military and police officers being included on the team and quit.

KABAR-IRIAN ("Irian News") Websites: http://www.irja.org/index2.shtml and http://www.kabar-irian.com 

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