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Independent probe points to soldier killing Papuan pastor

Account by dying man given to witnesses identifies killer, Indonesia's human rights commission says

Independent probe points to soldier killing Papuan pastor

Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) believes a soldier killed Reverend Yeremia Zanambani on Sept. 19. (Photo: UCA News)

A soldier tortured and shot dead a 67-year-old Protestant pastor nearly two months ago in Indonesia’s restive Papua province, according to the findings of an independent investigation.

The investigation into the death of Reverend Yeremia Zanambani of the Gospel Tabernacle Church of Indonesia was conducted by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

It occurred in the village of Hitadipa in Intan Jaya district shortly after the killing of a soldier and civilian in the area, sparking a war of words between pro-separatist rebels and the military over who was responsible

According to the commission, a soldier called Alpius Hasim Madi killed the pastor.

“[The findings] are based on the dying man’s account given to at least two witnesses before he died that he saw the soldier at the crime scene along with three or four other soldiers,” Mohammad Choirul Anam, a Komnas HAM commissioner, told journalists on Nov. 2.

He said the investigation revealed that the pastor suffered torture before being forced to kneel and be shot.

Anam said the soldier shot the pastor while trying to collect information about a missing weapon believed to have been seized by pro-separatist rebels from the soldier who was shot dead earlier.

“The death of Reverend Yeremia Zanambani was caused by a series of acts which led to an extrajudicial killing,” Anam said, adding that the pastor died from blood loss.

He said Komnas HAM will send its investigation results to President Joko Widodo and to Security Minister Mahfud MD in the hope the government will bring those responsible to justice.

Earlier, the minister revealed that a government-approved joint fact-finding team believed there was military involvement in the killing.

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Reverend Jacklevyn Frits Manuputty, general secretary of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, an umbrella group of Protestant denominations in the country which had demanded a thorough investigation into the pastor’s death, said Komnas HAM’s conclusions supported the fact-finding team line of inquiry.

“We must continue to push the government to resolve this case as it can pave the way for other investigations into unresolved cases in the region. It is a chance for the government to regain the Papuan people’s trust,” he told UCA News.

Military spokesman Gusti Nyoman Suriastawa promised strict action would be taken against the soldier under the existing law “if he is found guilty” in the pastor’s death.

“There is no solid evidence yet. Right now, the fact-finding team is going deep into the case. It is better if we just wait for the real result,” he was quoted by Kompas.com as saying.

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