25 Jun 2002

Papuan leader allegedly poisoned

4:35 pm on 25 June 2002

Reports from Indonesia say another member of the Papua Presidium Council has died in suspicious circumstances.

The reports say Yafet Yelemaken, who was a senior chief in the Baliem Valley in the highlands, was found dead at his home.

A report quoting the human rights organisation, Els-ham, says it believes he was poisoned.

Chief Yafet was the head of an organistaion called the Society for Highlands Survival and had been held for eight months after being found guilty of inciting an anti-Indonesian riot in Wamena in October 2000.

His death comes after the recent arrest of another highlands leader, Benny Wenda, who is being held in an Indonesian jail in Jayapura.

Separatists claim Chief Yafet's death is part of the new army chief's campaign to cripple the independence movement in Papua.