Medical examiner raises doubts about Australian worker's death in Papua PDF Afdrukken

PETER CAVE: The death toll from a weekend of violence in Papua has now risen to three.

Police have confirmed that another Freeport mine security guard has been found dead.

The body was found roughly 20 kilometres from where 29-year-old Australian Drew Grant was killed on Saturday and where another Freeport guard was shot dead yesterday.

But, in an exclusive interview with the ABC, the doctor who performed an autopsy on Drew Grant's body says it's possible that bullets were removed from it before he could perform an examination of the body in Jakarta on Saturday night.

Our Indonesia correspondent Geoff Thompson joins me now.

The import of not finding those bullets Geoff, what does it mean?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well, what it means is there were no whole bullets Peter, that's what Dr Abdul Munim Idris told us. There were no exit wounds, there were no whole bullets, only fragmentation.

He did contradict what the police have said so far; he said that there were four bullets not five fired into Drew Grant's body. There were two in the neck, one from each direction and two in the chest; the fatal shot being the one to the neck.

But asked whether he thought there may have been manipulation, he clearly said on repeated occasions, possibly. Possibly and agreed with the statement that possibly the bullets were removed.

PETER CAVE: And what could that manipulation be?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well, look he wasn't prepared to speculate about that but he was surprised to find that there were no intact bullets, only fragmentation.

He would not reveal the calibre of the rounds or the time of death but he said that…what he did say was that shots were consistent with coming from a distance and by distance that could mean 25 metres as mentioned by police. There could be one or more than one shooters and whilst there, because there were no whole bullets, crucially he couldn't say with certainty whether they came from military grade weapons. But he said they had metal casings; all of the fragments were bullets with metal casings which would be consistent with bullets of a military grade, but also other bullets.

But most importantly he suggests that it's possible that there was manipulation with Drew Grant's body, removing any intact bullet remains before he could arrive in Jakarta on Saturday night, 16 hours after the incident early on Saturday morning.

PETER CAVE: Is there any other reason for manipulation other than trying to divert attention from a possible involvement of security forces?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look it's impossible to say; we can only speculate. What he did confirm also is that Australian Embassy officials were present during the autopsy in Jakarta. So, they were there and are also familiar with this evidence no doubt. Now, he said that in terms of speculating any further he said, "Look, that is up to the police ballistics department".

He did say also that Indonesian intelligence is also involved in this case, in that they are one of the parties that he has to answer to. Now he is an independent forensic specialists, connected to a university and based at the hospital, who performed this and I think clearly takes his independence very seriously.

Now in terms of why the body could have been … he's not saying the body has been manipulated but he is saying it is possible that the whole fragments or the whole bullets were removed before he could examine it.

PETER CAVE: There have been previous incidents of the mine where security forces have been accused of becoming involved in violence because they weren't satisfied with the payments they were receiving from the mine; isn't that right?

GEOFF THOMPSON: That's correct. In 2002 three teachers, two Americans and one Indonesian, were killed in an ambush near Timika. Now this attack was quite…went on for quite some time. It was found to be by police in their initial investigations be consistent with a sort of military style assault. Later, this investigation went on to include the FBI and Indonesian authorities.

In the end a Papuan man was sentenced to life in prison, Antonius Wamang, for that crime and others received, other Papuans received other terms. Except there's always been a lot of people, within civil rights groups within Papua and within Indonesia and also some independent analysis from the US and elsewhere who believe that the finger still points to some level of involvement from the Indonesian military; whether putting these guys up to it or otherwise. But in terms of what's on the record and what's been proven in court, that's not the case.

PETER CAVE: Our Indonesia correspondent Geoff Thompson there, live on the line.