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Officials agree to probe 'chapel killing'

Alleged torture death in place of worship was a 'sacriligious human rights violation'

Father Paulus Nahak of Atambua diocese (holding speaker) urges Komnas HAM to investigate man’s death Father Paulus Nahak of Atambua diocese (holding speaker) urges Komnas HAM to investigate man’s death
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • March 30, 2011
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The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) pledged yesterday to investigate the case of a Catholic youth allegedly tortured to death in a military chapel, following calls by rights activists.

A commission official who heard their demands, Jhony Simanjuntak, said the case did appear serious and that the commission would take up the case.

“Next week, we will make enquiries and call the local military commander,” he promised.

Earlier, around 50 activists, including two priests, descended on the commission’s offices in Jakarta to deliver a statement demanding a probe.

“We urge Komnas HAM to immediately form an investigation team since there is evidence of torture and murder done in a chapel, an ecumenical worship place,” they said in the statement.

The commission has failed to carry out its role in implementing existing laws effectively, which is why such human rights violations occur, they said.

Charles Mali, 24, died on March 13 after he and five other youths were taken to a military base in Tobir in East Nusa Tenggara province’s Belu district for mugging a soldier while they were drunk.

Charles and his brother Hery Mali were taken there in the morning by their mother, Modesta Dau, to be punished for the mugging. He was found dead later that day.

“Hery Mali, told us that he, his brother and friends were tortured in a military chapel. This desecrates a place of worship,” said Father Paulus Nahak, head of Atambua diocese’s Commission for Justice and Peace.

Father Yohanes Kristoforus Tara from the Franciscan Commission for Justice and Peace agreed.

He pledged to offer the national commission assistance in dealing with the case.

Stefanus Gusma from the Union of Catholic Students of Republic of Indonesia said they went to the commission’s office because “we worry that this case as well as other cases will be overlooked by the commission.”

Related report
Catholics demand enquiry into death
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