Disappointment over court ruling in Poumako Case – military court sentences perpetrator to eight months

The Human Rights Lawyers Association for Papua (PAHAM Papua) published a press release on the 20 March in which the lawyers expressed their disappointment over the court ruling in the Poumako case. The trial was processed at the III-19 Military Court in Jayapura. Chief Brigadier Yusuf Salasar was sentenced to eight months imprisonment which will be reduced by the period of detention. The military prosecutors had demanded a sentence of 15 months imprisonment. PAHAM Papua assessed both,  the court ruling and the demanded sentence by the military prosecutor as disproportionately low. The defendant was charged with the articles 351 (2), (3), which sets a maximum penalty of five, respectively seven years imprisonment.

Military ProsecutorPAHAM Papua considers the low sentence as an attempt by the military law enforcement to protect the perpetrator. Multiple shortcomings in the investigation and law enforcement process strongly support the assessment. The investigation took more than six months, before the case was finally submitted to the military court. In contrast to common practice, the case was not processed at a military court in Timika, but transferred to the distant city of Jayapura which made it difficult for the victim’s family and the witnesses to attend the trial. Moreover, the military prosecutor (see image above) had not directly invited the witnesses to the court hearings.

Chief Brigadier Yusuf Salasar – a member of the Wadan Intel II Korem 174 Timika military unit - had killed Theodorus Cekatem at the Poumako Port in Timika on 9 August 2017 during a dispute over customary fishing grounds between an indigenous local fisherfolk and migrant fishers from other parts of Indonesia. The defendant released aimed shots at the crowd. Theodorus Kamtar was deadly hit by a bullet. Meanwhile, Rudolf Saran and Gabriel Nawipo were injured by bullets during the incident.