New York, February 18, 2009–The Indonesian government should launch an immediate investigation into the death of journalist Anak Agung Prabangsa, a reporter with the Indonesian-language Radar Bali daily, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On Monday, Prabangsa’s body was found floating off the coast of Bali island’s Bias Tugel beach near Padangbai Bay. The 41-year-old journalist was first reported missing on February 12 by his family and Radar Bali staff members, the day after he left the newspaper’s offices.
“We are saddened by the death of our colleague Anak Agung Prabangsa and send our condolences to his family and friends,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call upon the authorities to launch a thorough investigation into his death, and to publish their findings in a timely manner.”
An initial autopsy report cited in news stories showed that Prabangsa sustained head injuries and a broken wrist before his death. The results also showed that he had salt water in his digestive system, indicating that he had been alive when he first entered the water, according Dudut Rustiyadi, the forensic team coordinator at Sanglah General Hospital, where the autopsy was conducted.
Radar Bali director Justin Herman told CPJ that two weeks before Prabangsa went missing he had received threatening calls and text messages on his cell phone. It wasn’t immediately clear if the threats or his death were related to his reporting as a journalist or personal matters, according to Herman.
Press freedom conditions have improved markedly in Indonesia with the recent consolidation of democracy, but journalists in provincial areas complain they still face frequent threats and harassment when reporting on sensitive issues.