Makassar, Jubi – The Makassar Human Rights Court began the trial of the Bloody Paniai gross human rights violation on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. Maj. (Ret.) Isak Sattu was the sole defendant in the case.
The public prosecutor team led by Erryl Prima Putera Agoes charged Isak Sattu with two offenses of crimes against humanity which carry the heaviest penalty of death, and the lightest penalty of 10 years in prison.
The first hearing was held in the Bagir Manan Courtroom of the Makassar District Court and was attended by around 100 people, most of whom were rights activists. However, none of the families of the victims appeared in the trial.
The case was examined by a panel of judges led by Chief Judge Sutisna Sawati, with Abdul Rahman, Siti Noor Laila, Robert Pasaribu and Sofi Rahman Dewi as member judges.
Chief Judge Sutisna said the panel of judges would race against time to complete the examination as they had to pass down a verdict on the Bloody Paniai case on December 7, 2022.
Sutisna then checked the identity of Isak Sattu, a retired Indonesian Military (TNI) officer who was the sole defendant in the case. Isak Sattu, who was wearing a blue long-sleeved batik shirt with a bird of paradise pattern, showed his ID card to the panel of judges and stated that he was in good health.
Sutisna stated that Isak Sattu was not detained because he was considered cooperative. However, Sutisna warned that Isak Sattu could be detained at any time if he was deemed uncooperative in undergoing the trial. Isak stated that he was ready to attend the trial.
The public prosecutors read out their indictment for about an hour. The prosecutor outlined that Isak Sattu at the time of the Bloody Paniai tragedy on December 8, 2014, was the highest-ranking officer coordinating the activities of Koramil (military command) 1705-02/Enarotali, whose area includes Karel Gobay Field in Enarotali Village, Paniai District, Paniai Regency.
Beating at Pondok Natal
The prosecutor’s indictment stated that the Bloody Paniai incident on December 8, 2014, began with a case of beating by a number of TNI soldiers against Benyamin Kudiai, Yosafat Yeimo, Noak Gobai and Oktofince Yeimo. The beating occurred at Pondok Natal Gunung Merah, Enarotali – Madi Road Km 4, on December 7, 2014 evening, around 5:30 p.m. Papua time.
The beating angered the victims’ relatives. Therefore, the next morning, a group of people blocked the road in front of the Pondok Natal Gunung Merah.
Some police personnel led by the head of Operations of Paniai Police, Comr. Sukapdi, came to the Pondok Natal Gunung Merah at around 9 a.m. The mob attacked the police car where Sukapdi’s at. Sukapdi did not get out of the car and reported the situation to the deputy head of Paniai Police, Comr. Hanafiah. Hanafiah ordered Sukapdi to withdraw all police and TNI soldiers from Pondok Natal Gunung Merah.
However, the soldiers said they were staying. Sukapdi repeated his order to the TNI soldiers, “Withdraw, respect the leader”.
The prosecutor’s indictment said that at the same time, there were 100 people who gathered at Karel Gobay Field, about 6 km from Pondok Natal Gunung Merah. The crowd at Karel Gobay Field carried various traditional weapons such as arrows, bows, wood, axes and stones, and performed waita, a dance of running around and forming a rapid human vortex.
Comr. Hanafiah met the crowd and tried to negotiate but the crowd became increasingly uncontrollable. The indictment stated that while Hanafiah was negotiating with angry residents, one of the TNI members shouted and cussed at the crowd, saying “I will make you like last night.”
At the same time, there was a sound of gunfire from below the Karel Gobay Field. The crowd went scattered to follow the sound. The indictment stated that the mass damaged the car driven by Yonif 753/AVT commander First Lt. Prasenta Imanuel Bangun, and tried to seize the firearm that Prasenta was carrying. Prasenta fired into the air. Hanafian came to Prasenta and asked him to stop firing.
The prosecutor’s indictment stated that the mass then split, some returned to Karel Gobay Field and others returned to Pondok Natal Gunung Merah. Hanafiah then met with Paniai deputy regent Yohanis Youw, asking for his help to calm the crowd at Karel Gobay Field.
Shooting and stabbing in Bloody Paniai
When Hanafiah and Yohanis Youw arrived at Karel Gobay Field, the crowd was in the middle of a waita, before running to the Koramil 1705-02/Enarotali. The prosecutor’s indictment stated that defendant Isak Sattu, as the highest ranking officer at the Koramil 1705-02/Enarotali, ordered his soldiers to close the headquarters gate.
The prosecutor said Isak Sattu saw his soldiers taking firearms and live ammunition from the armory and did not prevent this.
There was a member of Koramil 1705-02/Enarotali who asked the person who climbed the headquarters’ fence to come down. The person kept climbing and shouted, “Shoot me, the weapon does not belong to you but to the state”. The soldier then fired a warning shot, while shouting to Isak Sattu, “Commander, we ask for \guidance, our base has been attacked.”
A few moments later, members of Koramil 1705-02/Enarotali fired at the crowd, chased them and stabbed a number of residents with bayonets.
Isak Sattu was stated by the prosecutor to have “failed to take appropriate and necessary action within the scope of his authority to prevent or stop the actions of members who carried out shooting and violence resulting in the death of four people.”
The four victims who died were Alpius Youw (gunshot wound to the left back), Alpius Gobay (gunshot wound to the left abdomen penetrating the right waist), Yulian Yeimo (wound to the left abdomen and penetrating the right waist) and Simon Degei (stab wound to the right chest).
In his first indictment, the prosecutor said that Isak Sattu knew or should have known that his troops were committing or had just committed crimes against humanity in the form of widespread or systemic killings of civilians.
The prosecutor said in the Bloody Paniai case, Isak Sattu had violated Article 42 paragraph (1) letter a and letter b Jis Article 7 letter b, Article 9 letter a, Article 37 of Human Rights Court Law No. 26/2000. It is punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for a maximum of 25 years and a minimum of 10 years.
In his second indictment, the prosecutor elaborated that Isak Sattu knew or should have known that his troops were committing or had just committed crimes against humanity in the form of widespread or systemic persecution against a certain group or association based on political ideology, race, nationality, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, or other reasons prohibited under international law.
By this, Isak Sattu was said to have violated Article 42 paragraph (1) letter a and letter b Jis Article 7 letter b, Article 9 letter h, Article 40 of the Human Rights Court Law, which carried a sentence of a maximum imprisonment of 20 years and a minimum of 10 years.
After hearing the reading of the indictment, Isak Sattu consulted with his legal team led by advocate Syahrir Cakkari. Syahrir Cakkari stated that his party would not file an exception to the prosecutor’s indictment, and invited the panel of judges to continue the trial. “We have listened well and scrutinized well. Therefore, with regard to the exception, we will not do it,” said Syahrir.
However, Syahrir said his party had yet to receive a copy of the case file, especially the Minutes of Examination of the witnesses and defendants of the Bloody Paniai. “Until now, we have only received copies and derivatives of the indictment. We have not received copies of other files To balance the position and for the sake of defense, we ask the judges to order the prosecutor to provide us with the Minutes of Examination,” he said.
The panel of judges then let Isak Sattu respond to the prosecutor’s indictment against him. Isak said that the Bloody Paniai incident was not planned. “It is said in the indictment that it was systematic, meaning it was planned. I want to say that is not the case,” he said.
Chief Judge Sutisna Sawati cut off Isak’s response, explaining that Isak’s argument had entered the subject matter of the Bloody Paniai case, and could not be conveyed in the indictment reading session.
“That has entered the case material. Later you will be given the opportunity to convey widely what you know and what you saw,” Sutisna told Isak.
The prosecution team said they had prepared 52 witnesses from the community, TNI, and police. The prosecution team also prepared six expert witnesses who will be sought to be present in the courtroom. Chief Judge Sutisna then adjourned the trial until September 28, 2022, with the agenda of witness examination. (*)