Des Wenda was arrested in connection with an alleged raid on the Jayawijaya District Military Command weapons arsenal on 4 April 2003. Following the raid nine people were arrested during the course of the next two weeks, with Mr Wenda being arrested on 19 April, according to a report by a local NGO coalition.
An undated report by Alliance of Democracy for Papua (Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua, ALDP) noted many accusations of irregularities in the trial. These included the lack of translators and the prosecution remaining almost silent throughout the trial as their role was being assumed by the judges themselves. The judges reportedly failed to respect the defendants’ rights to be assumed innocent until proven guilty, and pushed the prisoners to accept the state’s version of the story. They also repeated prejudices about the local people of Wamena, such as “people here are lazy and stupid.” On 15 January 2004, Mr Wenda was found guilty under the charges of treason (article 106 of the Indonesian penal code) and conspiracy (article 110) and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Not long after the verdict, local newspaper Cenderawasih Post reported that on 12 February 2004 less than a month after his conviction, Mr Wenda escaped from Wamena prison. There have been no further reports as to his whereabouts or status.
We have so far been unable to obtain detailed information as to the case against Mr Wenda or the circumstances of his arrest and detention. Reports regarding the other eight prisoners state that seven of them were tortured during military and/or police detention. Yapenas Murib died during military detention, Michael Heselo died in hospital whilst serving his sentence, and Kanius Murib died in 2012 of ill health while serving his sentence under house arrest.
Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua, “Peristiwa Pembobolan Gudang Senjata KODIM 1702 Jayawijaya, Wamena, 4 April 2003,” [undated], http://www.aldepe.com/2011/04/peristiwa-pembobolan-gudang-senjata_04.html
Cenderawasih Post, “Pembobong gudang senjata kabur dari LP Wamena,” 13 February 2004, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Komunitas_Papua/message/1419
NGO coalition for the protection and upholding of Human Rights in Papua, Jayapura, “Initial report into the 4 April 2003 Wamena case,” 6 May 2003, http://hampapua.org/skp/skp06/var-04i.pdf