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Court acquits three defendants accused in journalist's murder

(AJI/IFEX) - Three men charged with the murder of TV journalist Ridwan Salamun were acquitted on 9 March 2011 by the district court of Tual, in the province of Maluku.

The defendants - Hasan Tamange, Ibrahim Raharusun, and Sahar Renuat - were accused of killing Ridwan, a Sun TV contributor, on 21 August 2010 while he was covering a clash between residents of two villages in Maluku.

The public attorney of Tual District initially charged the three with murder but later changed the indictment to "committing persecution" against Ridwan, calling only for eight months' imprisonment. But as the public attorney "could not prove that the defendants had committed the crime", the judge acquitted them.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) expressed its dissatisfaction at the court's decision. "This is evidence of a culture of impunity which the state encourages among journalists' killers", the group said.

"Impunity for journalists' killers is an indication that the state does not have the will to protect journalists," said Nezar Patria, AJI president.

AJI filed a complaint on 10 March with the Judiciary Commission and the Public Prosecutors' Commission, along with other media groups, over the alleged lack of independence and professionalism in the trial.

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