SENIOR OFFICERS MAY BE INVOLVED IN THEYS' MURDER IN PAPUA

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By Tiarma Siboro

JAKARTA, Indonesia (May 21, 2002 - Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Investigation into the killing of Papuan pro-independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay last year points to the possible involvement of high ranking officers, National Military Police Chief Maj. Gen. Sulaiman A.B. said on Monday.

"It is not an ordinary murder. We can see that Theys was not an ordinary person ... he was the local Papuan leader, so I believe political motives were behind the killing," Sulaiman said on the sidelines of the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas)' 37th anniversary celebration here on Monday.

He, however, refused to confirm or deny rumors that Theys' killing involved intelligence operatives from a neighboring country.

"You can make your own conclusion," Sulaiman said when pressed by journalists to comment on whether or not an international conspiracy was behind the killing.

Theys, chairman of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP), was found dead inside his Kijang van on Nov. 11, 2001, in Koya Tengah, a few hours after he attended a function at the local headquarters of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus).

Aristoteles Masoka, who drove Theys to the ceremony and is believed to have been a key witness in the murder, is still missing.

After conducting a series of investigations, Military Police detained nine Kopassus members, including middle ranking military officers Lt. Col. Hartomo and Maj. Doni Hutabarat, as well as Capt. Rianaldo and six other lower ranking military officers.

They have been named as suspects in the murder case and were initially charged with violating Article 338 of the Criminal Code.

Another Kopassus member, Sergeant Yani, who once tried to kill key witness Yaret Imowi, is currently being detained at the Jayapura Military Police Command.

As political motives may be behind the killing, "these Kopassus officers will probably be charged with other violations," Sulaiman said without elaborating.

Sulaiman brushed aside allegations that the insubordination charge against the Kopassus members was "part of the scenario," by saying that "the ongoing investigation had not ended, and it is still open for more suspects."

Facing increasing pressure at home and from the international community, the central government set up a national commission of inquiry to investigate the murder. The commission had recommended that the Military Police carry out further investigation of the suspects believed to be responsible for the killing.

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

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