27 Dec 2002

Soldiers accused over Papuan leader's killing to go to trial next month

11:46 am on 27 December 2002

An Indonesian army general says seven special forces soldiers accused over the murder of the Papua pro-independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay will go on trial next month.

The official news agency Antara reports army police chief, Major General Sulaiman, saying the court-martial of the Kopassus special forces members will begin in the East Java city of Surabaya early in January.

General Sulaiman did not give a precise date but said that the files were already in the hands of military prosecutors.

The four officers and three privates may face up to 15 years in jail and dismissal from the forces, he said.

About 80 witnesses have been prepared for the trial but Sulaiman gave no details about them.

Chief Eluay, the leader of the pro-independence Papua Presidium, was found murdered in his car on November 11, 2001.

He had been abducted the previous night while driving home from a ceremony at the Kopassus base in Jayapura.