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West Papua: Melkianus Bleskadit Sentenced to Two Years

JUBI, 19 August 2011

Melkianus Bleskadit was sentenced yesterday in Manokwari court to two years for his role when the 14-star flag was raised.

A day earlier, the prosecutor asked for him to be sentenced to five years. The prosecutor has announced that he will mount an appeal against the verdict.

In a report made public by the human rights lawyer Yan Christian Warimnussy it was stated that Melkianus was arrested along with Dance Yenu for flying the 14-star flag to mark the anniversary of independence for 'West Melanesia ' on 14 December 2010.

In a comment on the verdict, Yan Christian Warinussy who was also a member of the defence team, said that while the judges had taken a good decision by limiting the punishment to the criminal element of the incident, indicating that he was not willing to go as far as the prosecutor, in the end his client had been given a much higher sentence. According to past experience involving the case of Jacob Wanggai and his colleagues, the judges had passed a shorter sentence which was subsequently increased at the request of the prosecutor, resulting in a far higher sentence.

He also said that the defendant had been held in a cell of the Manokwari prosecutor at the Manokwari prison in breach of the law. He said that both the judge as well as the chief prosecutor had obstructed his client's release to the moment when the high court judge could decide on extending the period of the appeals detention which should have ended on 19 August.

The three hours of freedom that his client should have enjoyed had been denied him by the decisions of the prosecutor and the judge. Moreover, there was a show of force when a company of police security officers as well special intelligence personnel stood on guard round Bleskadit at the office of the prosecutor. He said that the the lack of professionalism by both of these institutions had resulted in his client being deprived of his basic rights.

ENDS

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