Sunday, August 17, 2008

Indonesia linked to teacher deaths

Tom Hyland
The Age

NEW evidence has emerged linking the Indonesian military to the 2002 murder of two American teachers and an Indonesian colleague in a remote region of Papua, according to research by a US academic and an Indonesian investigative journalist.

"Credible sources link Indonesian intelligence agents to the planning of this attack," said Eben Kirksey, an anthropologist at the University of California, who co-wrote a new report on the killing with journalist Andreas Harsono.

Teachers Ricky Spier, Ted Burgon and Bambang Riwanto were shot dead and five others wounded in an ambush near the giant Freeport gold and copper mine on August 31, 2002.

Pro-independence guerillas were blamed, but human rights groups have long accused the Indonesian military of involvement in the attack.

The new allegations will be published in a report in a British academic journal tomorrow, drawing on what the authors say are more than 2000 pages of Indonesian court documents, recently declassified US State Department cables, and more than 50 interviews.

Dr Kirksey said senior US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had helped cover up evidence of military involvement, while the FBI had failed to bring the case to a definitive resolution.

The US was keen to have the case resolved so it could resume defence co-operation with the Indonesian armed forces as part of the war on terrorism.

A possible motive for military involvement in the attack was to convince the Freeport mine's owners of the need to continue to pay for security. Seven men were sentenced over the killings, including alleged ringleader Antonius Wamang, a guerilla fighter in Papua's independence movement, who received a life term.

Military involvement was not seriously considered at the trial, which was a sham, said Mr Harsono, the journalist.

The researchers quote "reliable sources" saying Agus Anggaibak, a 27-year old member of the regional parliament, helped plan the ambush and facilitated contacts between the shooters and military agents.

In an interview with the authors, Mr Anggaibak admitted to links with Indonesia's intelligence agency, BIN, but denied any involvement in the attack. He also admitted to meeting Mr Wamang.

The report will appear in the journal South East Asia Research.

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