Author Topic: Cablegate 2008 - Jakarta:Munir Case -- Accused Mastermind's Background  (Read 1355 times)

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Offline mayya

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2008 September 17, 08:48 (Wednesday)
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ID - Indonesia | PGOVID | PHUM - Political Affairs--Human Rights | PINR- Political Affairs--Intelligence
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 B. JAKARTA 1614 Classified By: Pol/C Joseph L. Novak, reasons 1.4(b+d). 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Former BIN Deputy Muchdi Purwopranjono--accused of masterminding the murder in 2004 of human rights activist Munir (Ref A)--is a decorated veteran who spent most of his career commanding troops in the Suharto-era's most difficult conflict zones. He was also at the heart of one of the nation's human rights tragedies--the 1998-99 abductions of student and pro-democracy activists. While the Munir case may go beyond Muchdi in the chain of command, a conviction of Muchdi would bring one of Indonesia's most vindictive public figures to justice. 



2. (C) A career army Special Forces (Kopassus) officer, Muchdi spent a large part of his career as a paratroop commander in the conflict zones of Aceh, Irian Jaya (Papua) and East Timor during the Suharto era. He served together with Prabowo Subianto (a current presidential candidate) in East Timor and the Papua region. Although three years older than Prabowo, Suharto's then son-in-law, Muchdi rose rapidly on Prabowo's coattails since graduating from the Military Academy in 1970. Muchdi and Prabowo were kindred spirits--tough fighters and devout Muslims. Starting in 1995, Muchdi was promoted three times in three years, succeeding Prabowo as Kopassus commander in March 1998, one of Indonesia's most powerful military positions.


3. (C) Prabowo commanded Kopassus from December 1995 to March 1998. Beginning in late 1996 and culminating in March-April 1998, approximately 23 political activists were abducted by Kopassus. The covert team, "Rose Team" (Team Mawar), took youth leaders, protesters and pro-democracy leaders into secret detention. Many of those abducted were members of major opposition political parties, including the Indonesian Party of Democratic Struggle (PDI-P), which would later take power under President Megawati. 

4. (C) Some of these missing figures were released in April 1998, including a group of democracy activists. Fourteen are still missing. There are rumors that some of these were buried beneath the asphalt of the airport highway. Those released talked of being abducted at gunpoint. Some victims testified to beatings, electric shock and underwater submersion. 

5. (SBU) One of those released, Mugianto, helped found a prominent NGO which to this day is active in human rights matters. Another is still with Megawati's party. Ironically, two of those released joined the political party founded by Prabowo for his presidential campaign, Gerindra (Ref B). Muchdi is the vice chair of Gerindra, still orbiting Prabowo's star. 


6. (C) As Kopassus head for 53 days beginning in March 1998, Muchdi would have presided over the situation involving the nine abducted activists during that brief period. Of those nine, four never reappeared. Controversy persists over who headed "Tim Mawar." The team's head, Maj. Bambang Kristiono, claimed to a military tribunal that he authorized all the kidnappings himself and this was accepted. A military tribunal dismissed or demoted three senior officers for failure to control subordinates--Lt.Gen. Prabowo was JAKARTA 00001761 002 OF 002 dismissed from active service while Maj.Gen. Muchdi was mothballed to a headquarters staff officer position. Head of Kopassus Group IV, Col. Chairawan was also dismissed. Eleven members of Tim Mawar were sentenced to between one and two years while all six officers in the team were dismissed from active service. The tribunal concluded that Tim Mawar acted on its own initiative. 

7. (C) Muchdi was one of seven key BIN deputies from 2001-2005. He was in charge of a division which under Suharto had conducted covert activities designed to persuade or intimidate communities into supporting the regime. He currently describes himself as "a mining entrepreneur" with a coal mine in East Kalimantan. As vice chair of Prabowo's Gerindra Party, his associates include several well known Islamists and ultra-nationalists. The well-funded Prabowo candidacy is campaigning strongly nationally. 


8. (C) A retired general who knows Muchdi well described him to DepPol/C as "crazy", explaining that he has a gigantic ego and no scruples. The former head of the Munir case police investigation team, Internal Affairs head Bambang Hendarso Danuri (recently named as the President's choice to be the next national police chief) told DepPol/C that Muchdi has a personality that would allow him to commit human rights violations without it bothering him.