18 Jul 2006

Lawyers for Papuans being tried over 2002 ambush killings question fairness of Jakarta trial

6:32 pm on 18 July 2006

The legal team for seven Papuans charged over the slaying of two Americans who worked for the Freeport Copper and Gold mine in Papua province in 2002 has questioned the fairness of the trial.

The trial opened in Jakarta today, despite demands by the Papuans and their lawyers for the case to be heard in Timika where the attack took place.

However on the instruction of their clients, the lawyers are absent from the trial.

One of the lawyers, Riando Tambunan, says the seven Papuans have been cheated by the government, the police and the FBI who he says lured the Papuans to their eventual arrest with promises of a trip to America.

"So they don't believe in the trial in Jakarta. Maybe the system is always the same. But you know, they have no trust in Jakarta at all. We couldn't change the trial - Jakarta or Timika. But actually we just want to support our client to fight for what they really want. It's okay if the trial's in Jakarta, we have to fight it first."

Mr Tambunan says the Papuans are being physically forced to face trial by the Police and prosecutor.