Indonesia: Outcry after Indonesian journalist killer receives pardon

In January, Indonesian President Joko Widodo gave a pardon to I Nyoman Susrama, the convicted killer of Balinese journalist AA Gde Bagus Narendra Prabangsa. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) in condemning the decision by the President and calling for Susrama’s original sentence to be reinstated.

Credit: Bali Pos

Based on the decree from President Jokowi, Susrama’s sentence was reduced from life to 20 years.

Anak Agung Narendra Prabangsa, 41, was a reporter with the Indonesian language daily Radar Bali. His family reported him missing on February 12, 2009. Prior to his disappearance Prabangsa was reporting on a corruption case in the education agency worth IDR 4 billion (approx USD 280,000). One of his stories covered Susrama’s project of the international school in Bangli. Prabangsa had been receiving threatening phone calls and text messages for several weeks before he disappeared.

Several days later, Prabangsa's motorbike was found in his hometown of Taman Bali, Bangli Regency. Prabangsa’s body was found floating on Bungsil Bay Karangasem by the farmers on February 16, 2009. An autopsy revealed injuries on his head and face, a broken wrist, and concluded that he had been thrown into the sea alive.

Following the police investigation, witness statements and evidence made to the court,  Susrama was found to be the mastermind of the killing. Susrama had ordered several men kidnap and kill Prabangsa. A year after Prabangsa’s murder, in 2010, Susrama was sentenced to life in prison.

Data from AJI shows that Prabangsa’s case was one of the few cases of journalist killings in Indonesia was a successful prosecution of the mastermind. Impunity remains one of the main issues to journalist safety and press freedom in Indonesia. There are 8 cases of journalist killings which remain unresolved.

AJI chairman Abdul Manan said that AJI regrets the remission given by President Jokowi to the killer of a journalist. “The pardon is not only violating the justice for Prabangsa’s family but also for journalists in Indonesia,” Abdul said.

AJI demands that the President revoke or annul the remission. The pardon will spread a message that the country has not shown a strong commitment to ending the impunity.

The IFJ said: “The remission given to Prabangsa has shown that the pursuit of justice in cases of journalists killing has been compromised. We must end impunity and bring the perpetrators to justice. We stand with AJI in demanding the President Joko Widodo to revoke or annul the pardon.”

Read more on journalist safety, impunity and working conditions in Indonesia and South East Asia in the IFJ’s latest report here.

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