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Indonesian military trial outrages activists who charge torture

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An Indonesian military court today handed down light sentences to three soldiers for their role in the torture of two farmers from Papua, sparking an outcry from human rights activists who slammed the verdict as weak.

The accused were caught on a cellphone video, posted on YouTube last October, torturing two farmers who were believed to have information on a secret weapons cache belonging to a group of separatists known as the Free Papua Movement.

But because the military criminal code does not recognize torture as a punishable crime, despite Indonesia having ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1999, the men were found guilty of "not following orders."

“This was a test case for the Indonesian government and it has failed,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Slapping soldiers on the wrist is not an acceptable way of dealing with torture.”

First Pvt. Tamrin Mahan Giri, First Pvt. Yakson Agu, and Sgt. Irwan Rizkiyanto were given sentences of eight, nine, and 10 months, respectively. The light sentences call into question the government’s pledge to the United States to reform the armed forces.

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