Medical doctors in Papua-New-Guinea have reasons to believe that the death of Danny Kogoya, a military commander in the National Liberation Army of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), who died on Sunday 15 December near the Indonesia-PNG border, was caused by a process of deliberate slow poisoning while he was recovering from an operation in an Indonesian military hospital.
It was initially reported that Mr. Kogoya had succumbed to an infection as an aftermath of a leg amputation. The Indonesian security forces had shot him during an attack, after he had clearly expressed his intention to surrender. They then proceeded to amputate his leg; the operation was performed without his permission, or that of his relatives, earlier this year. After his release from military hospital in Jayapura, the police threatened to re-arrest him. To escape certain death Mr. Kogoya fled across the border to Papua-New-Guinea.
Once in the neighbouring country, Mr. Kogoya underwent treatment by doctors, however they could not understand why his body was not responding to the treatment. The doctors asked relatives if they had any additional information but they did not. They began to suspect that his condition was caused by an unknown element in his body, most probably poisoning.
On Sunday 15 December, Mr. Kogoya passed away. It was decided to send Mr. Kogoya’s body back to Jayapura as his leg was buried in neighbouring Papua, Indonesia. His family explained that according to Melanesian and Papuan customary law, it would not be fit to bury him elsewhere and since then his relatives and friends have started making the necessary arrangements for his body to be sent back.
Initially, after having been informed, the Indonesian authorities announced they would not co-operate and they would reject the body upon arrival at the border between the two countries. However, the PNG (local) police which fully understood the traditional Melanesian implications of burying different parts of one same body in different places intervened and assured the relatives of Mr. Kogoya that they would escort the body up to the border and officially request for its transfer to the Indonesian authorities.
With regard to the non-responsiveness of Mr. Kogoya to medical treatment in PNG, and because of the unanswered questions surrounding his death, a formal request was sent to the Vanimo Court House which ordered on 17 December 2013 at 1 p.m. (afternoon-PNG time) that the case of Mr. Danny Kogoya was to be treated as a murder investigation. As a consequence of this decision, an autopsy would also take place, something which Mr. Kogoya’s relatives had already agreed to. A toxicology report is needed to confirm if whether or not Danny Kogoya died of poisoning, and if so, which poison was used.
As the doctors were about to perform the autopsy at around 3 p.m., two Indonesian agents entered the premises with an official from the Indonesian Consulate in Vanimo in an attempt to block the process of the autopsy which had been ordered by the Vanimo Court House earlier on. By doing so they are trying to prevent further analysis of the remains. There are strong suspicions that Mr. Kogoya has undergone poisoning when he was at the military hospital in Jayapura, Indonesia.
At the moment it is unclear if the Indonesian officials are succeeding in convincing the local court and government to stop the investigation into the murder of Mr. Kogoya. The actions of the Indonesian officials seem to reveal that they are trying to cover up acts that were in blatant breach of international humanitarian law.