The trial of Buchtar Tabuni, 32, human rights activist and leader of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) , began at the Jayapura District Court. He is accused of violence and vandalism at Abepura Penitentiary on Wednesday.
This hearing might raise eyebrows since Buchtar was arrested on June 5 by Papua Police for allegedly being linked to a series of violent protests in Jayapura in May and June.
He was detained after attending a meeting of the Papua legislative council, suspected of involvement in a string of shootings in the city.
During the first hearing, presided over by Judge Haris Munandar, prosecutor Ahmad Kobarubus said that the defendant was accused of violating articles 170 and 406 of the Criminal Code which carries a maximum sentence of five years.
The defendant and his colleague, Dominggus Pulalo, allegedly tossed rocks at the hall, office and workshop of the Abepura prison as warden Liberti Sitinjak announced to inmates that a convict was shot and killed as he attempted to escape.
“The defendant and his colleague Pulalo yelled to other inmates to throw rocks at the office as he picked up rocks and tossed them at the prison hall, office and workshop, causing glass panes to shatter,” said Kobarubus.
Gustav Kawer, Buchtar’s lawyer, said the indictment had nothing to do with the reasons behind his client’s arrest on June 5.
“Buchtar was arrested in connection with shootings in Jayapura and his position as KNPB leader, but this indictment was for another case. I guess there is a plot to divert the charges,” Gustav told reporters after the trial.
The trial was adjourned until July 23 to allow the examination of witnesses. Prosecutors promised to present ex-Abepura prison warden Liberti Sitinjak, who has now been transferred to Ambon, Maluku, as a witness.
Human rights activists have called for the police to pursue the perpetrators of shootings and terror in Jayapura, saying that Buchtar must not become the scapegoat for the violence.
Manokwari Education, Research, Investigation and Legal Aid Institution (LPPPBH) executive director Yan Christian Warinussy said that he believed that neither Buchtar nor the KNPB was behind the shootings that terrorized Jayapura residents.
Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Johanes Nugroho previously said Buchtar was arrested not because of the shootings but the incidents that took place followed the protests held by KNPB in Jayapura.