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Editor found dead; journalists injured in office raid

An editor on Kisar, one of the eastern Maluku Islands in Indonesia, was found dead with bruises on much of his body on 17 December, report local IFEX member the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In a separate incident, two journalists were injured when a group of members of the Kaili Youth Front (FPK) raided AJI's and Beritapalu.com's shared office in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on 30 December.

Alfrets Mirulewan, chief editor of "Pelangi Weekly", was found on a beach on 19 December, two days after he had gone missing.

"Given the circumstances of his death, there is reason to suspect Alfrets Mirulewan could have been killed for his work. Indonesia is earning a bad reputation as a place where journalists can be killed with impunity," said CPJ.

According to local news reports, Mirulewan had been looking into allegations of unlawful fuel sales and had also covered recent, sharply contested elections in the remote area. AJI, as well as the Indonesian Press Council, the Indonesian Journalists Association and Maluku Media Center are setting up a team to look into Mirulewan's death.

According to CPJ, two Indonesian television journalists were killed earlier this year, but there have been no prosecutions in their cases. In August, Ridwan Salamun, a videographer and reporter for Sun TV was found beaten in Maluku. Three weeks earlier, Ardiansyah Matra'is of the local broadcaster Merauke TV was killed in Merauke, a small town in Papua.

AJI says the attack on its office was in retaliation for an article about the FPK's earlier assault on the office of the local Indonesia National Youth Committee after losing its bid for chair. The suspects destroyed furniture and beat up Iwan Lapasere, chair of the AJI Palu branch, and Muhammad Sharfin. Both are correspondents for the Jakarta-based station Global TV.

According to AJI, of 37 violent actions against journalists in 2010, only two cases have been brought to court. "Law enforcers, inadvertently or not, allow violent actions to be committed against journalists," said AJI.

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