In December 2005 a district level court sentenced Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, an off-duty pilot, to 14 years’ jail after finding he put a lethal dose of arsenic in orange juice served to Munir on board the flight.
“Whatever amount they give us can never replace Munir”
The sentence was upheld on appeal, but in October last year Indonesia’s supreme court overturned the guilty verdict, saying there was not enough evidence and no witness.
The acquittal put pressure on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, who had vowed to get to the bottom of the case when he took office in late 2004.
Police have reopened their investigation and last month arrested two former Garuda executives for allegedly falsifying documents that allowed Priyanto to travel at the last minute on Munir’s flight.
|Rights groups have been demanding those
responsible for the murder face justice [EPA]
Munir had been an outspoken critic of the Indonesian military and its methods in quashing dissent and separatists in troubled regions such as Aceh and West Papua province.
The murder put Garuda at the centre of controversy over allegations of a cover-up and links to the country’s powerful intelligence agency.
Speaking outside the court on Thursday, Munir’s widow, Suciwati, expressed disappointment at the verdict.
“The court should have accepted our request for an audit and for Garuda to apologise to the public. But whatever amount they give us can never replace Munir,” she said.
Andriani Nurdin, the chief judge hearing the civil case, said the pilot of the Garuda flight failed to take necessary action when Munir was taken ill before he died on the way to Amsterdam following a transit at Singapore’s Changi airport.
Munir died about two hours before the plane landed in Amsterdam.
“According to international flight regulations, in the event of an emergency involving a passenger, the pilot must consult a purser or doctor on the ground and if necessary land at the nearest airport,” the judge said.