'Third party' may be involved in Papuan priest death: minister

'Third party' may be involved in Papuan priest death: minister

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD. (ANTARA/HO-Humas Kementerian Koordinator bidang Politik, Hukum dan Keamanan)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's top security minister, Mahfud MD, has revealed that security personnel and a ‘third party’ may have been involved in the death of Priest Yeremia Zanambani in Intan Jaya district, Papua province, on September 19, 2020.

The priest was a resident of Hitadipa village, Hitadipa sub-district.

The Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs made the statement shortly after receiving the final report of the joint fact-finding team (TGPF) set up by the Indonesian government to probe recent shootings in Intan Jaya district. The report was handed over by TGPF head Benny Mamoto here on Wednesday.

Based on information and data that the TGPF members gathered during their fact-finding mission, there is indication of security personnel’s alleged involvement, Mahfud MD informed.

However, the fatal shooting of Priest Zanambani may have been carried out by a "third party", he said, adding that the government has ordered the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office to handle the case in accordance with Indonesia's legal system.

The government has also asked the National Police Commission to monitor the process of law enforcement against those responsible for the crime, he informed.

The TGPF wrapped up its fact-finding mission after working for 17 days, starting October 1, 2020.

In an earlier press briefing on October 17, Benny Mamoto had revealed that his team primarily applied a culturally-sensitive approach while probing the deadly shootings. Therefore, the team members relied on voluntary accounts from invited witnesses.

"We prioritized a cultural approach while gathering facts on the ground. We are not investigators. We just gather facts, so that we ourselves must come or the figures that we have invited to come voluntarily show up (to recount what they witnessed)," he stated.

Mamoto also underscored the strong commitment on part of all members of the fact-finding team on uncovering the cases.

ANTARA has earlier reported that members of the fact-finding team faced a challenging task in Papua.

On October 9, 2020, a group of armed separatists ambushed them in Mamba village, Sugapa Sub-district, Intan Jaya district.

The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) confirmed it was behind the attack on members of the TGPF. One of the fact-finding team's members and a soldier suffered injuries in the attack.

The TGPF member — Gadjah Mada University (UGM) lecturer Bambang Purwoko — was shot in the leg, while TNI soldier First Sgt Faisal Akbar of the Hitadipa Task Force sustained injuries on his waist.

The Indonesian government set up the TGPF to probe a series of deadly shootings in Intan Jaya in September, the bloodiest month in the district this year, with armed separatists mounting a spate of attacks, which left two soldiers and two civilians dead, and two others injured.

On September 19, 2020, an Indonesian soldier died in a gunfight with several armed Papuan rebels near the Persiapan Hipadipa Military Sub-district Command's compound in the district.

The fallen hero was identified as First Private Dwi Akbar Utomo, according to XVII Cenderawasih Regional Military Command spokesperson, Lt. Col. Reza Nur Patria.

The same day, Priest Yeremia Zanambani was gunned down in Hitadipa village, Hitadipa Sub-district.

According to Joint Regional Defense Command (Kogabwilhan) III spokesperson, Col. IGN Suriastawa, the priest died of gunshot wounds after he was shot at by armed criminals.

On September 17, 2020, another soldier, Chief Sergeant Sahlan, was reportedly killed in an ambush laid by a group of armed separatists. He was attacked while returning to the Persiapan Hipadipa Military Sub-district Command in Intan Jaya district with food supplies from the Sugapa area.

The attackers seized his gun and magazine, according to commander of the Biak-based 173/Praja Vira Braja Military Resort Command, Brig. Gen. Iwan Setiawan.

Sahlan, a member of the 1404 Pindrang Military District Command in South Sulawesi province, had been tasked with backing up the Village Supervisory Non-Commissioned Officers (Babinsa) of the Persiapan Hipadipa Military Sub-district Command, he informed.

In a separate incident on September 17, 2020, armed Papuan rebels reportedly tortured and killed a 49-year-old Ojek motorcycle taxi driver, identified as Badawi.

On September 13, 2020, armed separatists opened fire at two other Ojek drivers in Sugapa area, but they managed to survive the attack. The two drivers were treated at a hospital in Timika, the capital of Mimika district, Setiawan remarked. (INE)

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