Makassar, Jubi – The sixth trial of the Bloody Paniai human rights violation at the Makassar Human Rights Court took place on Thursday, October 13, 2022.
The public prosecutor presented six witnesses for the shooting tragedy that killed four residents on December 8, 2014.
One of the witnesses, former commander (Pangdam) of Cendrawasih Military Command Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Fransen Siahaan acknowledged the beatings carried out by Indonesian Military (TNI) soldiers in Pondok Natal, Gunung Merah the night before the shooting, on December 7, 2014.
At the hearing on Thursday, there were three sessions of witness examination. The first session was Fransen Siahaan. The second session included three witnesses who are members of the Joint TNI Police Fact Finding Team (TGPF), and the third session was to hear two other witnesses from the TNI.
Fransen Siahaan attended the trial in a white shirt and dark pants. He served as Pangdam Cendrawasih for 11 months, from 2014 to 2015. His last position was Operational Assistant to the TNI Commander.
In the trial, Siahaan admitted that he received information about the persecution allegedly committed by members of the Pam Rahwan Task Force against eight residents in the Pondok Natal area on the night of December 8, 2014.
Judge Robert Pasaribu asked Siahaan what were the initial facts. “What was the cause of the massive protest on December 8th?” the judge asked.
“The incident began on the 7th night,” Siahaan replied. “Intelligence only mentioned that there were projectiles in the field, not in Koramil (military post),” he added.
Siahaan said the weapons in the East Paniai Koramil only contained live bullets. Though in the procedure there must be rubber and hollow bullets, due to budget constraints and Paniai being considered a vulnerable area, the two types of bullets were not available.
Siahaan believed the report that he held of the internal team of TNI and Police did not find any procedural errors from soldiers in the field. According to him, it was because both institutions did not want to blame each other and trigger a clash between the two.
“We are afraid that our men in the field will clash with each other. I and the Papua Police chief at that time could not do anything. We finally reported it to the TNI Commander. The Commander coordinated with the National Police Chief and sent a Joint Fact Finding Team to investigate and find the perpetrators,” said Siahaan.
However, even after visiting Paniai, the Joint Fact-Finding Team did not find out who the shooter was.
“In the TNI, who decides if a soldier is guilty? Can the team’s recommendation do that?” asked Pasaribu.
“It’s the Commander’s authority. The team can only make recommendations,” said Siahaan.
According to Siahaan, one of the reasons the fact-finding team did not find the perpetrator was that the condition of Papua at that time was still vulnerable. That was also Siahaan’s reason not to speak up in public.
“At that time we were silent not because we don’t want to talk but to reduce the turmoil. The media already blamed us a lot,” he said.
“We maintained the name of the institution at that time. And we did not name the soldiers because Papua was again vulnerable, we can’t afford to let these troops fight each other. That’s what we had in mind,” he said.
Pasaribu reminded Siahaan that one of the reasons the Paniai human rights trial was carried out was because the military commander at that time did not submit the perpetrators to the authorities for investigation and prosecution.
Up to this hearing, 24 witnesses have been presented. The suspect remains one person, Maj. (Ret.) Isak Sattu, the Liaison Officer of Kodim 1705 Paniai at that time. The Paniai gross human rights violation trial is held twice a week, namely every Monday and Thursday. (*)