West Papua: Buchtar Tabuni on trial for subversion

Cenderawasih Post, 18 February 2009
[Summary only]

A 29-year old Papuan, Buchtar Tabuni, was due to go on trial today in Jayapura, charged with subversion (makar). The charge arises from an action he took, along with other West Papuans, in response to the launch in London on 16 October last year of International Parliamentarians for West Papua.

Buchtar Tabuni graduated in technology at a university in South Sulawesi.

The police announced that a heavy guard would be mounted round the courthouse, including two infantry units, two police units and a unit of Brimob troops. The security forces were being kept in readiness for all eventualities should there be problems inside or outside the courthouse. A senior police office said that they had received a request for a demonstration to take place, although without the required 72 hour notice. The officer also said that the names of those making the request were not clear.

According to Cenderawasih Pos, his lawyer, Pieter Eli, SH announced that a large number of lawyers are ready to defend him. Altogether no fewer than 45 lawyers have expressed a desire to be part of his defence team.

Pieter Eli told the press than his client was fit and well and ready to face the trial, although he had lost weight and was now thinner than before.

Today’s hearing would be devoted to the presentation of the case against the accused. Response from the defendant and his team will follow shortly.

The lawyer, Pieter Eli, said that Buchtar was ready to defend himself against the charges. ‘He says that he is somewhat confused because what he did was nothing more than the expression of an opinion.’ Responding to allegations that his client was pursuing separatist aspirations, he said that such accusations were not objective.

The lawyer said he had held discussions with the court regarding the large number of lawyers who want to be part of his defence team, and arrangements would be made to enable as many of the lawyers as possible to attend the trial, in view of the size of the court.

It was also likely that a large number of Buchtar’s friends and supporters would want to attend the court hearings. Among those wanting to attend were members of the Association of Central Highlands Students. How many exactly would come was not known. The trial is open to the public and has been announced to the public, so there’s no telling how many people might turn up in support of the defendant who is known as someone who struggles for the aspirations of the Papuan people.’

Buchtar has been held ‘in quarantine’ for two weeks before the trial and had only recently been allowed to mix with other prisoners.

[Reports from other sources reveal that Buchtar Tabuni and his colleagues have been subjected to maltreatment by the police and by prison officials since they were arrested on 3 December.]

Buchtar is quoted as saying that he was unclear the charges the police had laid against him. He had done nothing more than express his opinion in response to the launching of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua in London. He said the police claim that they have evidence of subversion against him whereas all he has was a letter giving notification of his action. His lawyer said that Buchtar was ready to defend himself against whatever charges were laid.

This report from Cenderwasih Post was which has been translated and reposting of something produced by  Tapol, UK and should be credited to Tapol.  It is not a report by IPAHR.

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