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Pilot guilty of activist murder

25 January 08 10:54 GMT

A former pilot has been jailed for 20 years for murdering Indonesian rights activist Munir Thalib - reversing an earlier ruling quashing his conviction.

Pollycarpus Priyanto was jailed for 14 years in 2005, but had his conviction overturned 10 months later.

Indonesia's Supreme Court has now reversed that decision - reinstating his initial conviction and increasing his sentence to 20 years.

Munir was poisoned with arsenic in 2004 on board a flight to Amsterdam.

The death of the campaigner, who had helped to expose rights abuses by the security services, caused an international outcry.

Munir's widow, Suciwati, said the verdict did not go far enough.

"This is what he deserves, but I wish he got a longer punishment," she told AFP news agency.

"What's more important is to follow up on the intelligence people behind him - [Priyanto] didn't act on his own."

Mastermind plea

The presiding judge said Priyanto - a former pilot with national carrier Garuda Indonesia - had been found guilty of premeditated murder and forgery.

The decision followed a judicial review ordered by the prosecution after new evidence emerged during trials of Priyanto's alleged accomplices.

The BBC's Lucy Williamson, in Jakarta, said the evidence had suggested links between Priyanto and the state intelligence agency.

Testimony included eyewitness accounts of Priyanto drinking with Munir during his journey to Europe.

The head of Kontras - a human rights organisation that has been pressing for resolution of the case - said the decision gave them new hope.

But the group said the legal process should not stop until the plan's mastermind was brought to justice.

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