23 Jun 2006

Papuans held over March demonstration allege torture by Indonesian police

3:51 pm on 23 June 2006

Indonesian peace groups say Papuans being held by Jayapura police in connection with a violent demonstration in March are being tortured.

23 Papuans are being held in relation to the March 16th demonstration outside Cendrawasih University which called for the closure of the Freeport mine in Timika.

16 of them are now having their cases heard at the Jayapura District court, charged with a variety of offences, including inciting the violence which led to five deaths, four of whom were Indonesian police officers.

Representatives of Papua's Justice and Peace Secretariat and a church group have visited and interviewed the suspects.

They report that the suspects say they had been tortured and beaten, and deprived of food and sanitary living conditions during their three months in prison.

Meanwhile, the peace advocates say the trial of the 16, which is due to end next month, has been marred by intimidation from both judges.

They say the judges have frequently forced the witnesses, most of whom are police, to make statements detrimental to the accused.