Protestant leader framed says human rights group

By staff writers
24 Mar 2003

Protestant leader "framed" says human rights group

-24/3/2003

The Christian-based human rights organisation has exposed the use of false evidence in the case against a persecuted Christian leader.

According to the Jubilee Campaign, the Rev. Rinaldy Damanik leader of the Protestant Christian community in Central Sulawesi has been been framed by the Indonesian authorities on illegal possession of weapons charges.

Representatives from the organisation who attended his trial heard the testimonies of two policemen giving "inconsistent evidence" regarding the incident leading to Damanik's arrest.

"We were shocked by the glaring factual inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution's key witnesses." said Ann Buwalda, director of Jubilee Campaign USA.

During one line of questioning, the witness repeatedly said he could not remember, prompting the Chief Judge to question whether he had really forgotten what had taken place or merely could not remember his script.

Prior to the proceedings, the Jubilee Campaign team attended a morning meeting with Chief Judge I Nyoman Sonanada.

Speaking for Jubilee Campaign, Buwalda expressed the international community's concern regarding Rev. Damanik's trial. The judge assured the team that procedure would be followed and that the final decision would be based solely on the facts.

For several days before the trial, Jubilee Campaign also met with leaders and local groups from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Their discussions focused both on the general situation in Central Sulawesi and, in particular, Rev. Damanik's case.

Rev. Damanik was arrested in Jakarta on September 11, 2002, after accepting an invitation by the Indonesia National Police (Mabes POLRI) as a witness to testify regarding the August 2002 violence in the Poso district of Central Sulawessi.

Damanik was charged with the illegal possession of homemade firearms that were allegedly confiscated during a search of his vehicle in a village in Poso.

It is believed by many that Damanik is being framed in an attempt to blame Christians for the instability and violence that has plagued Central Sulawesi since 1998.

The Christian-based human rights organisation has exposed the use of false evidence in the case against a persecuted Christian leader.

According to the Jubilee Campaign, the Rev. Rinaldy Damanik leader of the Protestant Christian community in Central Sulawesi has been been framed by the Indonesian authorities on illegal possession of weapons charges.

Representatives from the organisation who attended his trial heard the testimonies of two policemen giving "inconsistent evidence" regarding the incident leading to Damanik's arrest.

"We were shocked by the glaring factual inconsistencies in the testimony of the prosecution's key witnesses." said Ann Buwalda, director of Jubilee Campaign USA.

During one line of questioning, the witness repeatedly said he could not remember, prompting the Chief Judge to question whether he had really forgotten what had taken place or merely could not remember his script.

Prior to the proceedings, the Jubilee Campaign team attended a morning meeting with Chief Judge I Nyoman Sonanada.

Speaking for Jubilee Campaign, Buwalda expressed the international community's concern regarding Rev. Damanik's trial. The judge assured the team that procedure would be followed and that the final decision would be based solely on the facts.

For several days before the trial, Jubilee Campaign also met with leaders and local groups from both the Christian and Muslim communities. Their discussions focused both on the general situation in Central Sulawesi and, in particular, Rev. Damanik's case.

Rev. Damanik was arrested in Jakarta on September 11, 2002, after accepting an invitation by the Indonesia National Police (Mabes POLRI) as a witness to testify regarding the August 2002 violence in the Poso district of Central Sulawessi.

Damanik was charged with the illegal possession of homemade firearms that were allegedly confiscated during a search of his vehicle in a village in Poso.

It is believed by many that Damanik is being framed in an attempt to blame Christians for the instability and violence that has plagued Central Sulawesi since 1998.

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