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IFJ demands full inquiry into environmental reporter's death

(IFJ/IFEX) - 27 July 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is troubled and saddened to learn of the death of Muhammad Syaifullah, who headed the Borneo bureau of Kompas, Indonesia's biggest daily newspaper.

Syaifullah, a well-known journalist who reported on environmental issues, was found dead on July 26 at his rented home in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan Province.

The last report by Syaifullah, who reported extensively on illegal logging and environmental destruction in the region, focused on problems relating to coal mining in Borneo.

"The IFJ calls on Indonesia's national authorities to conduct a prompt, full and transparent forensic inquiry into Muhammad Syaifullah's death," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The inquiry must be free of any presumption of the cause of death until the investigation is properly completed."

The cause of Syaifullah's death remains uncertain. Found by colleagues after his family could not contact him for some days, Syaifullah's body was discovered in the living room of his home. Police found a glass of syrup near the body.

An autopsy at Bhayangkari Hospital concluded Syaifullah died of a brain haemorrhage caused by diabetes and hypertension, according to reports.

However, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), an IFJ affiliate, reports that friends of the dead man reported they were unaware that Syaifullah had such a medical condition. AJI understands that police plan to conduct a further autopsy in Surabaya, East Java.

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