Indonesian reporter dies; had received death threats

New York, July 30, 2010An Indonesian search team this morning recovered the body of reporter Ardiansyah Matra’is in a river in the small town of Merauke, on the southern tip of Papua province, according to news reports and the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AIJ). 

Matra’is, who had been missing for two days, worked as a stringer for the national television broadcaster Anteve, before joining local broadcaster Merauke TV. At least four local journalists, including Matra’is, had received threatening text messages over the past week, according to news reports. The threats have come in the run-up to local elections to be scheduled in either August or September, AIJ noted

The Indonesian news website Kompas cited one threat as saying: “To cowardly journalists, never play with fire if you don’t want to be burned. If you still want to make a living on this land, don’t do weird things. We have data on all of you and be prepared for death.”

Initial news reports said Ardiansyah’s body showed signs of torture, although local police later denied finding signs of abuse. The Jakarta Globe said the reporter’s family had been denied permission for an autopsy.

“The circumstances of the death of Ardiansyah Matra’is must be fully explained. If local police cannot carry out a full investigation, police at the provincial or even national level must step in to ensure that all the questions surrounding this reporter’s death are answered,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.