21 Aug 2003

Indonesian military seeks millions in libel case over ambush in Papua

4:45 pm on 21 August 2003

The trial has opened in Indonesia of Papuan human rights activists and journalists in a libel case brought by the military which seeks almost six million US dollars in compensation.

The Kopassus special forces launched the libel case after the activists and two Indonesian publications implicated the military in last year's killing of two Americans and an Indonesian near the US-owned Freeport mine that is protected by the Indonesian military.

The military has blamed separatist rebels for the ambush but one activists, John Rumbiak of the Els-ham group, says he only presented accounts on the attack given by local people.

The Jakarta Post reports that the case has been adjourned until late September because some of the defendants were absent from the hearing in Jayapura.