From: Ulma Haryanto
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2012 7:16 PM
Today I'm off but here is a bit of additional Munir-related piece. I asked journalist Alam Burhanan on what was it like to interview Muchdi Purwopranjono back then since I couldnt reach Muchdi myself. I thought it was good for a refresher about the alleged mastermind who had been almost convicted. Alam was the one behind ANTV's investigative reporting program Telisik, the guy won a couple of awards for it. He's now working for VOA in DC, I had thought to include the interview yesterday but couldn't coz his response came late (time difference).
Additionally, I am attending this 12-day ASEAN journo training in Gran Mahakam starting Sunday.. participants r required to write something at the end of the training and I hope we can also run it on paper (kalo bagus sih :p).. but if u hv asean-related topics that u think r interesting pls let me know since we are also scheduled to interview Marty on Monday sept 17.
It might be years after the last time TV Producer Alam Burhanan met former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono in his prison cell, but he would never forget that day, nor that he wished Indonesia to forget about how the case of human rights activist Munir is far from resolved.
"It started when I had to meet with several [politicians] who are detained for corruption, and since these people gather together it gave me the chance to meet others, not only Muchdi but also Aulia Pohan, Urip Tri Gunawan, etc.," Alam told the Jakarta Globe in an email interview. Alam now lives in Maryland, United States and works for state-owned broadcast service Voice of America (VOA) in Washington DC.
Aulia is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's in-law and former central bank governor who was jailed for graft while Urip is a senior prosecutor sentenced for receiving bribe money in 2008. Both, together with Muchdi, were once detained together at Kelapa Dua in Depok.
"I paid special attention to Muchdi at the time because of the seriousness of his indictment, it was also the first time for a general from BIN to be made a murder suspect," Alam continued.
In 2008, when Muchdi was declared suspect in the case, Alam was the executive producer of an investigative reporting show for private television network ANTV.
"It was hard to get to Muchdi," he said.
"It was a sensitive period [for him], to be a general who had to be jailed for a murder case that gained a lot of attention."
"From the beginning we already think that the prosecutors were not serious enough in building up his case, in addition to that the panel of judges was also reluctant to take the case seriously," said Al Araaf, director of human rights group Imparsial.
Munir was poisoned in September 2004 as he flew from Jakarta to Amsterdam. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, a former Garuda Indonesia pilot, has been convicted of putting a fatal dose of arsenic into his drink.
Prosecutors have accused Muchdi of ordering the killing out of anger over Munir's criticisms of his leadership of the Army's Special Forces unit (Kopassus).
Alam said that he had talked to Muchdi several times before he finally agreed to be interviewed for his show.
But interviewing a former general with high position in Intelligence had its own challenges. Alam recalled one instance when Muchdi tried to "threaten" him when he disagree with where the show was going.
Muchdi was "chaotic", Alam said of one of the meetings. At that time Muchdi "summoned" him to his cell because he wanted to read the script before the show would be aired but Alam instead brought and old one.
"Independence of the press is protected by law so I have no obligation to show it to him, I told him the new one wasn't ready but he can review the previous script," Alam continued.
But moments after reading the first page Muchdi started shouting angrily... over the number of houses he owned.
"What is this?? How did you know I have two houses? I only have one, you are so tendentious!" Alam recalled.
Muchdi also further protested how the script mentioned him as the driving force behind Munir's assasination.
"He grew angrier when I took out a copy of the prosecutor's indictment demanding to know where I got it, in panic I replied that I got it from Kontras," he continued, referring to the rights group Commission on Missing Persons and Victims of Violence.
"Muchdi shouted angrily, 'So you are from Kontras?? I thought you are mine!'," Alam said.
"His face was shaking, then he said, 'I still have a million people outside! I still have money! Don't you think I cannot do anything from inside the prison!'," he continued.
"He said if we ever air Kontras, he will 'mark' me."
Alam admitted that he had feared for his life back then, but managed to keep going by reminding himself that what he did was a journalism work and that it was important not only for Indonesia but also garnered international attention.
"Maybe Muchdi wanted me to defend him and disregard data from other parties on the case. But to me, those who think Muchdi is Munir's killer is still needed, in the end of course we still air interviews with Kontras," he added.
Alam did not hear anymore from Muchdi even after the show was aired.
"As a part of the fight 'against forgetfulness' we should keep asking the question on the rest of the actors, who might already died or transferred to another country, the keys to unlock Munir's case are diminishing and harder to find," Alam said.
Only former Garuda pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, was convicted for lacing Munir's drink with poison. "Intellectual" actors behind his actions were still largely untouched, including former BIN chief Hendropriyono and deputy As'ad Ali.
Leaked US diplomatic cables released last year by WikiLeaks mentioned on how top-level officials of BIN were involved in Munir's murder.
They mentioned how then-Chief of National Police Sutanto allegedly knew about the BIN involvement but was lacking evidence to implicate its officials and that Hendropriyono "chaired two meetings at which Munir's assassination was planned". The cables and a witness at those meetings told police that "only the time and method of the murder changed from the plans he heard discussed; original plans were to kill Munir in his office."
As'ad was also mentioned in court testimoney of signing a letter requesting Garuda to put Pollycarpus on the same flight as Munir.
"From the beginning prosecutors did a weak job with Muchdi's indictment, so it was no surprise that the court acquitted him," said Al Araf, program director of human rights group Imparsial.
"But [the President] still has two years left in his term to review the case, and we hope that he could stop wavering and start ordering for the case to be reviewed," he added.