13 Sep 2006

Lawyers slam FBI role, lack of suitable witnesses in trial of Papuans

8:12 pm on 13 September 2006

The legal team representing seven Papuans standing trial for allegedly killing two Americans and one Indonesian in 2002 says testimony by FBI agents is irrelevant.

The agents helped arrest the seven suspects, including the alleged ringleader Antonius Wamang in Timika in January.

Before turning over the Papuans to police, the FBI had lured the suspects from in hiding by promising them asylum in the US, where they would not be prosecuted.

The defendants stormed out of the courtroom on Tuesday in protest at the judge's decision to allow the agents to testify followed by their lawyers.

One of the lawyers, Riando Tambunan, has questioned the role of the FBI in the trial which he says needs more witnesses who were present at the killings to stand in.

"We smell some political situation around here. The FBI agents were doing their investigation about 2004/2005. No fact at all... they couldn't get enough information to develop all the story. There are 11 victim witnesses and still only three of them are represented on the court."