Former intelligence chief A.M. Hendropriyono denied on Thursday allegations that the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) was involved in the murder of human rights campaigner Munir.
"I never ordered the murder. If it is the work of the institution, I should know. (But) if it is the work of individuals at BIN, then let the legal process proceed," Hendropriyono said at the Jakartass office on Thursday.
Hendropriyono visited Jakartass to clarify Thursday's posting "Munir's Assassins Hinted At" quoting officials from the government-sanctioned fact-finding team investigating Munir's death, who said that BIN officials were believed to have been involved in the murder.
He said that he had no motivation to kill Munir although they held sharply contrasting views on different issues, including on how to curb terrorism.
"Many may have connected me with the death of Munir because I once urged the authority of this country to produce a tough regulation to curb terrorism, while Munir was against such an idea. Munir had also criticized the intelligence agency in many ways ... but it (such criticism) would not give me enough motivation to kill him," Hendropriyono said.
In its report set for submission to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono today, the fact-finding team concluded that there was evidence BIN officials were involved in the poisoning of Munir aboard a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on Sept. 7 last year.
The mandate of the team expired yesterday and it was scheduled to meet the President after Friday prayers earlier today.
The report, however, did not definitively state that BIN as an institution was behind the crime, nor did it state how deeply BIN individuals were believed to be involved, or posit any motivation for the murder.
Throughout its investigation, BIN officials had blocked the team's efforts to gain access to documents and to its arms warehouse.
The team had previously attempted to summons Hendropriyono three times for questioning over the case, but the retired four-star Army general refused to respond, describing the team as arrogant and lacking professionalism, and said it had no legal right to question him.
"The team's egotism could actually be worse than that of (former internal security agency) Kopkamtib," he said, pointing out that the legal basis for the team was only a presidential decree, while that of Kopkamptib was based on a law.
Kopkamptib, or the Operational Command for the Restoration of Security and Order, was an instrument of the military during the New Order regime. The feared agency's officers could summon, arrest, detain and interrogate people deemed to be acting against the regime without an arrest warrant.
In its findings, the fact-finding team suggested the President order the police to launch a full investigation against top BIN officials who were in charge of the agency when Munir died.
Hendropriyono was the head of BIN at the time of Munir's murder.
He stressed that he would respond to any police summons.
"I will respond to the police. I would be violating the law if I didn't respond to the police, or even to (National Commission of Human Rights) Komnas HAM," he said.
"Do you all know the reason why? Because the police and Komnas HAM have the authority to do so (summon me). They have the law as their legal basis, not merely a Presidential Decree. Indeed, I have voluntarily come to the police to clarify my position on the case," Hendropriyono said, referring to his visit to the Police Headquarters on June 11.
Rest assured that Jakartass will continue to follow this case.
This case must not be one of several thrown in the closet, where we keep all the other skeletons for fear of prodding sleeping, powerful dragons.
Munir's death will remain a test case for Susilo's administration. Can the President make a significant contribution to breaking down the wall put up many years ago around what has become a comfortable cushion of impunity?