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Media Backgrounder On Trial Of Yacobus Bere

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Minister of Justice
MEDIA ADVISORY

7 March 2002

Media Backgrounder On Trial Of Yacobus Bere And Others, Accused Of Murder Of Pvt Leonard Manning

Below is background information on the trial of Yacobus Bere and others, accused of the killing Private Leonard Manning. This information was provided by the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.

The Bere verdict is expected any time from 4pm NZ time today.

The defendants

- Four persons have been charged with the murder of New Zealand peacekeeper Private Leonard Manning.

- Yacobus Bere, a farmer aged 37, was indicted in the Central Jakarta District Court on 7 November 2001. The state prosecutor, Syafe’i, alleged that Bere (with five others - Yohanes Timo, Gabriel Halenoni, Fabianus Ulu, Alfonus Taek and Gabriel Moruk), on Monday 24 July 2000, at a hill named Debululik in the Suai district of the territory of East Timor, intentionally and with premeditation took the life of Private Leonard William Manning.

- Yohanes Timo, Gabriel Halenoni and Fabianus Ulu (aged 33, 36, and 20 respectively - all farmers) were indicted in the Central Jakarta District Court on 10 December 2001 (Halenoni and Timo were indicted in one case and Ulu in a separate case. The state prosecutor, Firdaus, alleged that Timo, Halenoni and Ulu (with Bere, Alfonus Taek and Gabriel Moruk), on Monday 24 July 2000, at a hill named Debululik in the Suai district of the territory of East Timor, intentionally and with premeditation took the life of Private Leonard William Manning.

- Alfonus Taek and Gabriel Moruk are still at large.

- The three cases are being tried separately for technical reasons, relating to the timing and nature of police investigations and the ability of the defendants to testify in other defendants’ cases.

- All three trials have been adjudicated by the same panel of three judges, but with a different judge from the panel sitting as chair. To all intents and purposes the Timo/Halenoni and Ulu trials have been joined.

The charges

- All four defendants were charged with both first and second degree murder.

- New Zealand law does not distinguish between first and second degree murder. The New Zealand equivalent of second degree murder in Indonesia is murder. Second degree murder is not the same as manslaughter (which is a separate offence in Indonesia), because the accused has been charged with intentionally taking the life of another person.

- Presenting multiple charges - ie first and second degree murder - is common practice in the Indonesian criminal justice system.

Evidence

- Both prosecutors called a number of witnesses to give evidence in court, including nine New Zealand citizens.

- The prosecutors also read out sworn statements from other New Zealand witnesses, and from East Timorese witnesses, who were not required to give evidence in person.

- In order to expedite the process, the court allowed any evidence presented in the Bere trial (eg testimony from witnesses) to be admitted as evidence in the Timo/ Halenoni and Ulu trials (though witnesses had to be made available to answer additional defence questions in those trials).

- Both prosecutors alleged during the trials that it was Yacobus Bere who fired the shot that killed Private Manning, and that the other defendants (Timo, Halenoni and Ulu) aided and abetted him in carrying out that criminal act.

- In their statements and testimony before the courts, all four defendants have denied any involvement in the killing of Private Manning.

- The trial is taking place before a panel of three judges. There is no jury. The burden of proof on the prosecution is similar to the case in New Zealand ie beyond reasonable doubt.

Closing Arguments - Yacobus Bere trial

- The prosecutor (Syafe’i) submitted his closing arguments to the court on 14 February. He accepted that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a first degree murder charge but argued that, based on the evidence presented in court, the defendant was guilty of second degree murder.

- In recommending an appropriate sentence, Syafe’i set out aggravating factors against the defendant. These were that the victim, Private Manning, was part of a United Nations peacekeeping force, and that the defendant’s actions, especially in mutilating the corpse were a “sadistic act”.

- In the context of the evidence submitted, and the nature of the crime committed, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Yacobus Bere to 12 years imprisonment.

- The central Jakarta district court is scheduled to render its verdict on Thursday 7 March.

Closing Arguments - Yohanes Timo/Gabriel Halenoni and Fabianus Ulu trials

- The prosecutor (Firdaus) submitted his closing arguments to the court on 14 February. He accepted that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a first degree murder charge but argued that, based on the evidence presented in court, the defendants were guilty of second degree murder.

- In recommending an appropriate sentence, Firdaus set out the same aggravating factors, namely that Private Manning was part of a United Nations peacekeeping force, and that the mutilation of the corpse was a “sadistic act”.

- In the context of the evidence submitted, and the nature of the crime committed, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence Yohanes Timo, Gabriel Halenoni and Fabianus Ulu to 10 years imprisonment.

- Closing arguments from the defence and further argumentation from both the prosecution and defence have yet to be heard.

- The Central Jakarta District Court is expected to render its verdict on March 22.

Sentencing

- First degree murder (article 340 Indonesian Criminal Code - murder with both intent and premeditation), carries the maximum penalty of death, or imprisonment of up to 20 years.

- Second degree murder (article 338 Indonesian Criminal Code - murder with intent but no premeditation), carries the maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

- Indonesia’s Criminal Code provides maximum but not minimum terms of imprisonment. The court therefore has the discretion to sentence a person found guilty to either the maximum term allowed, or any term of imprisonment below that maximum.

Appeal

Indonesia maintains a two-tier appeal structure. Both the state prosecutor and defence counsel have the right to appeal decisions of the District Court to the High Court and then, if required, to the Supreme Court.

Ends


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