Reporters Without Borders

Journalist who covered environmental issues found dead

Journalist who covered environmental issues found dead

Published on Monday 26 July 2010. Updated on Tuesday 27 July 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders urges national police chief Gen. Babang Hendarso Danury to ensure that the police conduct an exhaustive and impartial investigation into the death of Muhammad Syaifullah, the Borneo bureau chief of the leading national daily Kompas, and do not prematurely rule out the possibility that he was murdered in connection with his work.

Syaifullah was found dead today in his home in Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. The cause of death is not yet known. The police said that his body was found in front of a TV set, that there was froth around his mouth and that the muscles of his face were contracted.

“Nothing should be ruled out in advance by those carrying out the autopsy and the investigation,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The sensitive stories on which Syaifullah was working could have angered local companies. Even if there are no grounds for saying this with certainty, it is essential that no hypothesis neglected.”

Syaifullah’s body was found by worried colleagues who went to his home this morning because his family, who live in another city, had not heard from him since 24 July.

After learning about the condition of the body, several local journalists speculated that he could have been poisoned. But the police said he could have died as result of a heart attack, hypertension or diabetes. The autopsy is still under way.

Syaifullah was outspoken in his criticism of deforestation and environmental destruction in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

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