The high-profile case is seen as a crucial test of the government's willingness to crack down on rogue elements within Indonesia's powerful security forces, who for years have operated with impunity.

 

Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto is accused of ordering two flight attendants to put a massive dose of arsenic in Munir Said Thalib's orange juice during a flight to Amsterdam on 7 September, 2004.

 

The 38-year-old campaigner became violently ill and died two hours before landing.

 

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"We the prosecutors demand that judges sentence Pollycarpus to life imprisonment"

Domu Sihite,
one of the prosecutors

We the prosecutors demand that judges sentence Pollycarpus to life imprisonment" Domu Sihite told the Central Jakarta Court District on Thursday.

 

Despite the stiff sentence, some of Munir's supporters say the case shows Indonesia has changed little since the days of the Suharto dictatorship, when military and police officers carried out state-sponsored killings and were largely above the law.

 

Pollycarpus has been identified by government-appointed prosecutors as the sole suspect in Munir's murder even though members of an independent fact-finding team had said earlier this year that the country's intelligence agency might have been involved.

 

Munir's wife is one of many people who believe the Garuda Indonesia airline pilot is just a scapegoat. Munir rose to prominence in the final years of dictator Suharto's rule for openly criticizing the government and the country's brutal and powerful security forces.

 

He went on to probe killings carried out by the Indonesian troops during East Timor's bloody break for independence, and military-led violence in the separatist-troubled provinces of Papua and Aceh.