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Indonesia: Death penalty: Second Lieutenant Sanurip

, Index number: ASA 21/026/1997

There is concern that Second Lieutenant Sanurip was sentenced to death in a military tribunal on 23 April 1997, convicted of the murder of 11 soldiers and five civilians in Timika, Irian Jaya in April 1996. There is further concern that evidence of the suspect's state of mental health at the time of the killings was rejected by the tribunal. Amnesty International is urging the authorities to commute his sentence.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 21/26/97
UA 115/97 Death Penalty 25 April 1997
INDONESIASecond Lieutenant Sanurip, 37
Amnesty International is concerned at the death sentence handed down to Second
Lieutenant Sanurip for the murder of 16 people following a military tribunal
in Jayapura, the capital of the province of Irian Jaya. To Amnesty
International's knowledge, the sentence is the first death penalty handed down
in a military tribunal since March 1989.
The soldier, a member of Indonesia's Special Forces Command, Kopassus, was
convicted of the murder of 11 soldiers and five civilians in Timika, Irian
Jaya, in April 1996. The Military Tribunal's decision was handed down on 23
April 1997. Sanurip will now appeal to a higher military court in Surabaya,
East Java. If his sentence is upheld, he can then appeal to Indonesia's Supreme
Sanurip was in Irian Jaya as part of the military operation to secure the release
of 11 hostages being held by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (OPM), Free Papua
Movement. The shootings occurred at Timika Airport around 5 am on 15 April
1996, after two members of ABRI (Indonesia's armed forces) were killed during
an attempt to release the hostages. Some media reports suggested that Sanurip
became angry when he realised that one of the soldiers killed by the OPM was
a friend. Members of the armed forces killed during the shooting spree included
a lieutenant colonel, a major and a captain. At least 10 others were wounded.
Amnesty International is concerned that during the military tribunal, evidence
of the suspect's state of mental health at the time of the killings was rejected
by the tribunal. Immediately after the shootings, the ABRI Chief of General
Affairs, Lt-Gen Soeyono, stated that Sanurip was suffering from depression.
Soeyono was quoted as saying that, based on a preliminary military investigation
into the shootings, "...the suspect had a mental problem when he went on this
shooting spree". (Jakarta Post, 16 April 1996). Other military spokespersons
claimed at the time that Sanurip had been suffering from malaria and that this
was the cause of his mental state at the time of the shooting.
Indonesia retains the death penalty for a number of crimes including crimes
against state security, assassination of senior state officials, murder, theft
resulting in murder, piracy and drug offences.
There are believed to be at least 27 prisoners awaiting execution on death
row. Five of these are political prisoners who have been on death row for over
20 years. The remainder are mostly those convicted of murder or drug related
offences. Thirty-nine people are known to have been executed since 1978,
including 30 political prisoners. Thirty of these executions took place between
1985 and 1992. After a lapse in executions between December 1992 and the
beginning of 1995, three executions were carried out between January and April
The last person sentenced to death in a civilian court was Sugianto, 19, who
was convicted of murder and sentenced in December 1996 in the District Court
of Surabaya.
The method of execution in Indonesia is by firing squad. Those sentenced to
death - in both military and civilian courts - can appeal their sentences to
higher courts and ultimately to Indonesia's Supreme Court. They can also appeal
for presidential clemency at any stage after the initial sentence, but clemency
is rarely granted. Some prisoners refuse to request presidential clemency
fearing that if it is refused then there is nothing preventing the sentence
from being carried out.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as the ultimate
cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of one of the most
fundamental of human rights, the right to life. Amnesty International does
not condone violent crime and recognizes the suffering of the victims of crime
and their families. The organization believes, however, that the death penalty
is an inherently unjust and arbitrary punishment, however heinous the crime
for which it is imposed.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Bahasa Indonesia, English or your own language:
- expressing concern that Second Lieutenant Sanurip has been sentenced to death
and that information about his mental state of health at the time of the crime
was not taken into account by the Military Tribunal;
- urging the authorities to commute his death sentence;
- urging the authorities to abolish the death penalty in Indonesia.
Minister of Justice
Haji Utoyo Usman S.H.
Menteri Kehakiman
Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
Jakarta Selatan
Fax: +62 21 525 3095
Telegrams: Justice Minister, Jakarta, Indonesia
Salutation: Dear Minister
Commander of the Armed Forces (ABRI)
General Feisal Tanjung
Panglima ABRI
Markas Besar ABRI
Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat No 13
Jakarta Timur
Fax: +62 21 36 1471 (Armed Forces HQ); +62 21 37 8144
and to diplomatic representatives of Indonesia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 30 June 1997.

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