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West Papua: Freedom Fighters Facing Charges

Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni to face charges 'for damaging public property'

According to Bintang Papua, 14 December 2010, two well known Papuan political prisoners are to face charges for alleged incitement and causing damage to the Abepura Prison.

The two men, Filep Karma who is serving a 15-year sentence, and Buchtar Tabuni who is serving a three-year sentence, were transferred from Abepura Prison to the custody of the police in Papua on 3 December. Three other prisoners who were charged under the criminal code were also transferred, Domminggus Pulalo who is serving two years, Alex Elopere who is serving three years and Lopes Karubaba who is serving two years.According to the chief of public relations of the police in Papua, Commissioner Wachyono, they will face a series of charges under Articles 170 and 160 for incitement for which they face sentences of up to seven years.

'Let no one run away with the idea that they are immune to the law, including these six (sic) men just because they are already serving sentences,' said Wachyono.

Wachyono said that they were now being held in cells at the police command for security reasons. 'If they were held at the district police command (Polsek), anything undesirable could happen, especially bearing in mind that many groups in society are not happy about the men being incarcerated.'

Referring to reports that relatives of the prisoners have been prohibited from visiting the men as well as members of the central KomnasHAM, Wachyono insisted that this was untrue. 'There are no restrictions against anyone visiting them, as long as they comply with visiting hour procedures. People should not come when the men are resting,' he said.

[According to information from relatives of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, from the time of their transfer to police custody on 3 December until the present, visiting has been denied.]

As already reported, those now being charged started inflicting damage after hearing that a co-prisoner, Wiron Wetipo who had escaped from the prison was shot dead by a joint patrol of the army and the police after they had raided a house in Tanah Hitam suspected of being the headquarters of the TPN/OPM. After learning of Wiron's death, the prisoners started causing damage and inciting other prisoners to resist the prison authorities.

[According to information from colleagues of Filep Karma and Buchtar Tabuni, the contrary is true. The two men, in particular Karma tried to mediate with the prisoners, urging them not to riot or cause any damage. TAPOL]


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