A rescue team found the body of Matra’is near the
family reported him missing in Merauke, a small town on the southern tip of
Papua province, according to news reports.
Matra’is, a reporter for the local broadcaster Merauke TV,
had been covering plans for a large agribusiness development in Merauke,
according to the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AIJ). With its potential
for bringing wealth to the remote region, the project had led to a heated
competition for the position of regional chief, Victor Mambor, chairman of
AIJ’s local branch, told the newsmagazine Tempo.
Matra’is’ death came in the run-up to local elections.
In the week before his death, Matra’is had received
threatening text messages similar to those sent to at least three other local
journalists, news reports said. The news website Kompas translated 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 Matra’is’ body showed signs of torture, although local police later denied finding signs of abuse. Matra’is’s family declined to have an autopsy conducted, as is often the case in Islamic cultures.