Update treason trial - Polish citizen sentenced to five years imprisonment and four years for his Papuan companion

The panel of judges at the Jayawijaya District Court in Wamena has sentenced Polish defendant, Jakub Skrzypksi, to five years imprisonment. His Papuan companion and co-defendant, Simon Magal, was sentenced to four years. According to the judges, both men had been proven guilty, fulfilling the legal prerequisites for treasonous acts as stipulated in article 106 of the Indonesian Criminal Code KUHP. The public prosecution, represented through Ms Febiana Wilma Sorbu, had earlier demanded an imprisonment sentence of ten years.

The defendants’ lawyers, Mrs Anum Siregar and Mr Aloisius Renwarin, assessed that the verdict did not reflect the facts and the evidence presented during the trial. They considered the sentences as disproportionately high, arguing that similar treason trials during past years resulted into sentences of only three years and lower. Simon Magal and Jakub Skrzypski announced they will appeal against the verdict.

Jakub Skrzypski wrote a public letter in response to the verdict, which was published in the Papuan news outlet Tabloid Jubi. Skrzypski asserted his innocence regarding the allegations of treason against him and rejected the trial as well as the verdict against him. He argued that the police had fabricted the treason charges agsinst him, incriminating him of being a weapon trader.

Bourrat DandoisAccording to Skrzypski, important witnesses who were able to exonerate him had been intimidated while others had been forced during police detention to incriminate him as weapon dealer. The police statement was later used as evidence, although the witness refused to make a testimony at court. Jakub Skrzypski compared his situation with that of the French journalists Thomas Charles Dandois and Valentine Bourrat (see image on the right), or Swiss journalist Oswald Iten, who had been arrested in 2014 and 2000. While these foreign journalists had been deported for violation of the immigration law, the Indonesian authorities were using his case to set an example for any foreigner engaging with Papuans opposing the Indonesian government. He argued that the authorities had not raised criminal charges against the journalists, considering the diplomatic consequences from influential countries such as France and Switzerland.