21 Jan 2011

Prosecutors seek 12 months jail for soldiers in Papua torture video

8:02 am on 21 January 2011

Prosecutors in Indonesia are seeking jail terms of up to 12 months for three soldiers accused of disobedience after they filmed themselves torturing Papuan civilians.

In footage posted on YouTube website last year, the soldiers apply a burning stick to the genitals of an unarmed man and threatened another with a knife.

AFP reports that the soldiers each read the same confession to their separate courts martial in the Papua provincial capital Jayapura.

The Indonesian military has described their actions as "unprofessional" but has not charged them with more serious offences such as assault or kidnapping.

The charge of disobedience carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in jail.

The minor charges and the authorities' alleged reluctance to investigate the torture allegations cast doubt on the Indonesian government's pledges to rein in military abuses in return for renewed US military exchanges.

The victims have refused to testify at the court martial, saying they fear for their lives and have not been given adequate security guarantees.

In a videoed statement, Kiwo has told Papuan elders he thought he was going to die during two days of torture in which he was repeatedly beaten, suffocated, burned with cigarettes, cut with a razor and tormented with pain.