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National Police Restart Munir Murder Probe

Garuda Indonesia Senior Executives Named as Suspects in 2004 Death of Indonesian Human Rights Activist.

(4/15/2007) Indonesian Police have formally named and taken into custody Garuda Indonesia' former President Director, Indra Setiawan, and the Chief Pilot of Airbus 330s at the Airline, Rohainil Ain, as suspects in the continuing investigation of the mysterious death of Indonesian human rights activist Munir Said Thalib. Munir died September 7, 2004, while flying from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Garuda.

An autopsy performed on Munir's body in Holland confirmed his death was caused by poisoning linked to orange juice purportedly served him on board the flight.

In a high profile trial, Pollycarpus Budihari, an off-duty Garuda pilot who had managed to join Munir's flight as a passenger, was convicted for his role in the murder of Munir and sent to jail for his part in the death. Later, the Supreme Court changed the murder conviction to a less-severe falsification of travel documents charge, allowing the pilot to go free from prison in October 2006.

According to Tempo Interaktif, police have not discounted the possibility that other suspects may be named in the continuing investigation of Munir's death.

The latest arrests are focusing on the role played by the two senior Garuda officials in falsifying letters that allowed Pollycarpus to join the flight on which he reportedly befriended Munir. Police also reportedly have additional forensic evidence based on studies done in U.S. forensic laboratories and new witnesses in the case that may eventually allow Police to name additional suspects.

Local legal observers question how the case against the two Garuda officials can proceed without re-opening the charges again Pollycarpus. Garuda's corporate lawyer, Mohammad Assegaf, has spoken to the press, asking: "If Pollycarpus was legally found not to be Munir's murderer, what is the basis for declaring these two persons (the Garuda officials) as suspects?"