FURTHER DELAY EXPECTED FOR PAPUAN THEYS' MURDER TRIAL

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By Tiarma Siboro

JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 27, 2002 - The Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---The trial of nine members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) accused of killing Papuan leader Theys Hiyo Eluay will likely face further delay because the military police cannot guarantee they can hand over the results of their investigation to military prosecutors next month.

Brig. Gen. Hendardji, deputy chief of the military police, said on Friday that the investigative team was having difficulty collecting evidence, as well as the testimonies of several witnesses, calling the high-profile case "very sensitive."

Hendardji, also chairman of the Indonesian Military (TNI) investigative team, initially said he would hand over the results of the investigation this month, but it was rejected as "incomplete" by military prosecutors.

"I cannot set a deadline for the handing over of the investigation's results because most of the witnesses have refused to testify. So what we need is more time," he said.

Earlier, Military Police chief Maj. Gen. Sulaiman A.B. said the Kopassus members were likely to be tried this month, soon after the TNI investigative team hand over the dossiers to prosecutors.

But Sulaiman retracted his statement a few days later, saying the trial might be delayed because the team had yet to complete its investigation.

Theys, also a chairman of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP), was found dead in November last year, only hours after he had attended a commemoration of National Heroes Day at the Jayapura-based Kopassus headquarters.

Nine Kopassus members are being detained at the military police's cellblock for allegedly killing Theys. The include Lt. Col. Hartomo, Maj. Doni Hutabarat and Capt. Rianaldo.

Many had demanded that the government proceed with the case at the Human Rights Tribunal, considering that TNI, as an institution, was believed to have engineered the killing.

Earlier this week, Rianaldo's father Agus Zihof, a retired military officer, sent a letter to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, informing him that his son was being forced by a man namely Maj. Andika Perkasa, a Kopassus member and also a son-in-law of Hendropriyono, the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, to confess to killing Theys.

In his letter, Agus also revealed that "Andika had promised my son a good position at BIN, because his father (Hendropriyono) holds one of the top positions there."

Hendardji said the team would not question Andika.

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

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