10 Sep 2005

Second high-ranking Indonesian policeman cleared of Papua abuse charges

7:23 am on 10 September 2005

A second high-ranking Indonesian police officer has been acquitted of crimes against humanity in connection with the arrests of nearly a hundred Papuans.

Senior Commissioner Daud Sihombing was found not guilty yesterday of committing crimes against humanity after police under his command arbitrarily detained 99 villagers in December 2000.

The arrests came after suspected Free Papua Movement rebels attacked the police station in Abepura, killing one police officer.

Police raids on nearby villages left three people dead, with others alleging beatings and torture in police custody.

The latest acquittal follows the clearing of another senior officer, Brigadier General Johny Wainal Usman, on Thursday.

Outside the court in the Indonesian city of Makassar, more than a hundred Papuans and activists protested against the decision, which they described as a miscarriage of justice.

Amnesty International describes the ruling as a worrying illustration of Indonesia's security forces again, as it puts it, being allowed to escape justice.

The group says the verdict means that not a single member of Indonesia's security forces has been convicted of these crimes after nearly

five years of investigations and legal proceedings.

The Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific programme, Natalie Hill, says the verdict also denies victims any compensation.