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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 08:56 GMT
Jakarta activist feared poisoned
By Tim Johnston
BBC, Jakarta

Munir (picture courtesy Right Livelihood Award)
Munir said he had "lost count" of the death threats against him
Human rights activists have expressed shock after a prominent Indonesian lawyer's autopsy showed up high levels of arsenic.

Munir, who campaigned against abuses under ex-dictator Suharto, died on a flight to the Netherlands in September.

His death had been put down to natural causes.

But the Indonesian police said on Friday they would now investigate to determine if the 38-year-old was murdered.

Munir was a prominent human rights activist who earned his reputation during the years of the Suharto dictatorship, when he frequently clashed with Indonesia's entrenched interests.

He once said that he had "lost count" of the number of death threats he had received.

But his refusal to bow to pressure had earned him iconic status among other dissidents who suffered for their decision to challenge the authorities.

Two years ago, he co-founded a pressure group called Imparsial, which is dedicated to helping victims of human rights abuses. The group has been consistently critical of Indonesia's lack of legal protection and the country's still-powerful military.

If the suspicions that Munir was poisoned are confirmed, it would be an unwelcome resurgence of the sort of brutal tactics that many Indonesians hoped had become a thing of the past.

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