Military heads inquiry into Irian leader's death
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The Indonesian government has ordered the country's security forces to form an inquiry team to investigate the death of Irian Jaya independence leader Theys Eluay.
Coordinating Minister of Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono said the investigation including elements from the armed forces and police was being launched after speculation that the military had been involved in the killing, the English language Jakarta Post reported.
The move appears to overrule calls by religious leaders from Irian Jaya who had urged the government to form an independent investigation into Eluay's death.
In a letter to the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (KOMNAS) released Monday clerics from both the Muslim and Christian communities cast doubt on the objectivity of any investigation that included elements from the military or police.
Human rights activists have condemned the government's decision saying the move was designed to pre-empt an independent investigation that might implicate senior members of the armed forces.
"The credibility of the military investigation is zero," said KOMNAS member Asmara Nababan, according to the Associated Press.
"The government should listen to the demands of the public and avoid more controversy by setting up an independent investigation."
Eluay's body was found on November 10 inside his car at the bottom of a ravine near the Irian Jaya provincial capital, Jayapura.
No one has claimed responsibility for his death although his family and other independence leaders have accused military special forces units of having plotted his death.
Eluay, who headed the pro-independence Papua Presidium, went missing while driving home from a ceremony at a base of the Kopassus special forces in Jayapura.
Irian Jaya police say preliminary evidence indicates that the 64-year old was murdered.
Eluay's driver, who could hold the key to the mystery, has not been seen since the night of his death.
Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, has been the scene of an armed rebellion against Indonesian rule for several decades leaving thousands dead.
Many deaths of pro-independence figures have been blamed on Indonesian special forces which have been accused of widespread human rights abuses in the province.
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