Court Rules He Poisoned Activist's In-Flight Meal
If you're traveling on
Garuda Air Indonesia, you might want to think twice about ordering
the noodles. They were the last thing democracy and human-rights
activist Munir Thalib ate -- because, an Indonesian court ruled
Tuesday, they were laced with arsenic. And the man that did the
lacing, according to the court, was Garuda pilot Pollycarpus
Priyanto was not flying the plane, but was onboard serving as a
security supervisor -- Indonesia has a profound Islamist terrorism
problem. The judge ruled that the poison was placed in Thalib's
meal on the Jakarta-Singapore leg of a flight to Amsterdam in
Thalib was dead on arrival in Amsterdam.
Priyanto took the stand last week in his own defense, denying
any involvement in the crime and testifying that he may not have
liked Thalib, but that he didn't dislike him enough to kill him.
"What makes Munir so significant for me that I had to kill him on a
Garuda plane... my workplace?" Priyanto said, according to a
Judge Cicut Sutiarsa ruled against the pilot, who was sentenced
to 14 years in prison, disappointing prosecutors who had hoped for
a life sentence.
Priyanto continues to deny guilt, and has vowed to appeal.
The motive for the crime was alleged to be Indonesian policy
matters. Munir Thalib was an outspoken critic, you could say
basher, of the Indonesian government in general and of the defense
and security establishment in particular. Priyanto, on the other
hand, was a supporter of the military and intelligence
That political subtext, along with the international interest
drawn by the death of the high-profile activist, has made the case
a red-hot issue in Indonesia.
Pilots have long quipped that the greatest hazard in aviation is
the inflight meal. Now they have the sad case of Munir Thalib to
punctuate their joke.
There may be a silver lining in this for Indonesian flight
instructors, but they have to be patient. If Priyanto is not
pardoned or paroled, he's going to need a lot of dual when he gets
out of prison in 2019.
FMI: www.garuda-indonesia.com, www.aerowisata.com/EN/cateringservices_1_1_1.html
(Garuda's in-flight catering... "Each meal is prepared is strict
accordance to ISO-9002 standards by our top international chefs
with strict standards for hygiene, presentation, and taste."