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Update on Viktor Yeimo's trial - delayed yet again

18 April 2023
Viktor Yeimo

Image: TAPOL

The agenda for the reading of the prosecution’s case in the trial of Viktor Yeimo on treason charges at Jayapura District Court on 17th April 2023 has been postponed for a second time. The reason given was the same as on the first occasion: the prosecution file from the public prosecutor is not ready because it still has to be coordinated with the Office of the Attorney-General.

This move has displeased the chairman of the panel of judges, the defendant's lawyer, the defendant and even the public who were present to watch the trial leading to a turbulent atmosphere in the courtroom.

As a defendant, Viktor also expressed his frustration in the courtroom. He was surprised by the prosecutor's reasoning about "having to coordinate with Jakarta", and addressed the court and prosecutor directly: "Do you guys actually want to try me politically or legally? Prosecutor, if you have other, political intentions, then resolve this case well. Throughout the trial, the prosecutors could not prove my guilt but have detained me all this time. What does all this mean? What is there to be afraid of?”

"If you dare to detain someone, then prove them guilty. If you can't, then do not politicise or look for other, political reasons."

When given the opportunity to speak, Emmanuel Gobay, one of Viktor Yeimo's lawyers, suggested that the panel of judges also communicate with the Provincial Prosecutor's Office and the Office of the Attorney-General, so as not to continue delaying the reading of the prosecution’s case.

He argued that people could be given the impression that the protracted reading of the prosecution’s case is related to the plan to transfer the chairman of the panel of judges to Makassar. If so, Gobay continued, this could be considered a mistrial because prosecutors are trying to take advantage of a situation where the judge is about to move. The court will then have a new panel of new judges for a case which is almost finished.

Gobay also added that the delay in reading the prosecution’s case was odd. This is because the events under consideration are the same as those considered in the Balikpapan Seven and Frans Wasini cases, namely the anti-racism protests in 2019, where the prosecution process was relatively fast.

At a press conference after the hearing, Gobay asked the Prosecution Commission (a body that oversees the performance of prosecutors and employees of the prosecutor's office) to monitor the case. In addition, he also hopes that the panel of judges will remain professional and independent, despite the circumstances created by these developments, such as delays in reading the prosecution’s case, fake news about trial conditions and the involvement of large numbers of security forces in each of Viktor Yeimo’s trials.

The prosecution’s case reading has now been scheduled to be heard  on Thursday, 27th April 2023.