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Indonesian court acquits retired army major of crimes against humanity in Papua shooting trial | CNN

An Indonesian court on Thursday acquitted a retired army officer in the fatal shooting of four teenagers in Papua in 2014, dashing hopes that the military would be held accountable for alleged abuses in the country’s easternmost region.

Held in a little-used human rights court, the seven-week trial saw prosecutors bring charges of “crimes against humanity” against retired army major Isak Sattu for his alleged role in ordering the fatal shooting.

Presiding Judge Sutisna Sawati said on Thursday that the defendant had been found not guilty and cleared of all charges.

The case relates to an incident in Papua’s Paniai district in 2014 when security forces allegedly opened fire on a crowd of hundreds of residents who had gathered to protest the beating of a child, killing four and injuring 17. .

Yones Douw, a lawyer and representative of the families of the victims, said the trial was only carried out to “create a good image of Indonesia.”

“Since the beginning of the trial we rejected it because there was only one suspect and we only knew that he would be released,” he said.

Prosecutors, who alleged that Isak had failed in his command responsibility by failing to stop his troops, had called for him to be jailed for 10 years.

Isak’s lawyer, Syahrir Cakkari, said he was cleared of all charges because he was not responsible for the actions of the military personnel involved in the incident.

Conflict between indigenous Papuans and the country’s security forces occasionally flares up in the remote and resource-rich province, where a long-running battle for independence has raged since the region came under Indonesian control following a disputed vote of 1969 which was supervised by the United Nations.

President Joko Widodo has paid special attention to trying to improve development and social welfare in Papua and has vowed to ensure justice for the victims of the Paniai incident.

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