Indonesia increases jail term for Pole convicted of treason

Supreme Court rejects Jakub Skrzypski's bid for freedom, instead increasing his sentence to seven years over Papua ties.

    The European Parliament has described Skrzypski as a political prisoner and called for his transfer back to Poland [File: Elvino/AFP]
    The European Parliament has described Skrzypski as a political prisoner and called for his transfer back to Poland [File: Elvino/AFP]

    Indonesia's supreme court has increased the jail term for a Polish man convicted of treason over his alleged links to separatist fighters in restive Papua, raising the sentence to seven years from five, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

    Jakub Skrzypski was arrested in August last year, accused of making contact with outlawed rebels in the country's easternmost territory and plotting to overthrow the Indonesia government.

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    The Pole appealed against his sentence. But the Supreme Court this week rejected that bid and increased the original sentence, which is not uncommon in the Indonesian justice system.

    The ruling overturned an earlier court decision that affirmed the five-year jail term, which was less than the 10 years originally demanded by prosecutors.

    Skrzypski's lawyer, Latifah Anum Siregar, said the latest sentence was "too heavy", adding she was discussing the next steps with Skrzypski, including the possibility of challenging the verdict through a case-review mechanism.

    That route would require finding evidence of legal errors made by the court.

    "Skrzypski has rejected the accusations from the beginning," Siregar said.

    The European Parliament has described Skrzypski as a political prisoner and called for his transfer back to Poland.

    Skrzypski is the first foreigner to be found guilty of an attempt to overthrow the Indonesian government and imprisoned under Article 106 of the Indonesian criminal code.

    In recent weeks, Skrzypski has asked the court to order his transfer to another prison facility citing his declining health

    Jakarta is deeply sensitive about Papua where a low-level armed uprising against the central government has simmered for years and routinely blames separatists for violence in the region.

    Prosecutors said the Pole had met leaders of the Free Papua Organisation (OPM) and was found with documents and video detailing the Papuan struggle for independence.

    A former Dutch colony, Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea (PNG), just north of Australia.

    One of Indonesia's poorest regions, Papua has seen several spasms of violence in recent months, including deadly unrest partly linked to a fresh push for independence.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies