Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Jakarta intelligence agency implicated in airline poisoning


A key suspect in the poisoning death of Indonesia's most prominent rights activist implicated the state intelligence agency in a secretly taped phone conversation that was played before a packed courtroom.

Pollycarpus Priyanto, a former pilot who is facing retrial in the activist's Sept. 7, 2004, death on a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, sat quietly as the recording was played on Wednesday.

He was heard saying a document linking him to the State Intelligence Agency's former deputy chief had "disappeared" or "been destroyed" and that there was no danger the evidence would resurface.

"I would never acknowledge [the existence] of the letter ... not only me ... almost 90 percent of the state officials are on our side, sir," Priyanto, 46, told Indra Setiawan, Garuda's former executive director in the May phone conversation.

The wiretap, introduced by prosecutors on Wednesday, was recorded by police shortly after Setiawan was detained as a suspect and jailed in April. It was the first evidence presented in open court supporting allegations of state involvement in Munir Said Thalib's death.

Priyanto has been accused of putting a fatal dose of arsenic in Thalib's food or drink -- a claim he has repeatedly denied -- halfway through the journey. He was an off-duty pilot at the time and, according to Wednesday's testimonies, had been ordered by the intelligence agency to board the plane as a "security officer."

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