Source AP ©

Hundreds to mark anniversary of activist's poisoning death in Indonesia

Hundred of Indonesian demonstrators rallied Friday in city streets to demand the government find and prosecute the poisoners of the country’s most prominent human rights activist.

Munir Said Thalib, who tirelessly exposed abuses carried out by the Indonesian military, died exactly three years ago while flying from Jakarta to Amsterdam on the national carrier, Garuda.

An autopsy revealed he had ingested several times the lethal dose of arsenic.

"We want the government to bring the real culprits to trial," said protester Fajar, who believes the killing took place with the help of the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, the scene of one of the biggest demonstrations.

More than 200 people wearing Thalib T-shirts defiantly gathered outside the gates of the powerful agency, chanting his name and hanging memorial flowers, while hundreds of security forces looked on.

Thalib's wife, Suciwati, stood on the roof of a car and told the crowd through a megaphone, "Whoever is involved in the killing has to be punished by law."

An off-duty pilot named Pollycarpus Priyanto was found guilty of murdering the activist, but the Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2006. New evidence submitted last month, however, indicates former intelligence agents may have been linked to the crime.

"It is impossible that my husband was killed by just one person, Pollycarpus," said Suciwati. "What for and why? He had no motive. It had to have been a conspiracy, committed by a group of people."

Judges are now trying to determine if the case should be reopened.

The investigation into Thalib's death is seen as a test of how much Indonesia has changed since former President Suharto's 32-year dictatorship, when state-sponsored killings were common and security officers were largely above the law.

The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have pressed Jakarta to find justice for the rights campaigner.

Among new evidence being heard to determine if the Supreme Court will review its decision are telephone taps in which Priyanto expresses relief that a document linking him to the intelligence agency "disappeared" or had "been destroyed."

He has admitted being on the plane with Thalib, but denies involvement in the killing or ties to BIN.

One prosecution witnesses who claimed he saw Priyanto serve Thalib a drink while transiting at the Singapore airport - where the poison is believed to have been administered - retracted his testimony on the stand.

Rallies Friday were held in the capital Jakarta and the country's second-largest city, Surabaya. Busloads of protesters wound through the streets singing songs, waving Indonesian flags and carrying posters that said, "Justice for Munir. Justice for all."

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