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Jakarta withdraws forces from Papua JAKARTA - The Indonesian military has started withdrawing its Kopassus special forces from Papua province where members of the elite unit have been linked to the murder of an independence leader two years ago, military officials said on Thursday. "The TNI will withdraw all Kopassus troops from Papua because the security situation there is improving," said Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) chief General Endriartono Sutarto.
"The withdrawal is already underway," Sutarto told a monthly press conference. Seven members of the Kopassus, Indonesia's special forces unit, have been linked to the murder of Theys Hiyo Eluay, leader of the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP) and a well-known proponent of Papuan independence from Indonesia.
Eluay was found strangled in his car on November 11, 2001, in a remote spot 45 kilometres from Jayapura, Papua's capital, 3,688 kilometres northeast of Jakarta. He had attended a celebration at Kopassus headquarters on the night of his disappearance. A government investigation into the murder identified seven fairly low-ranking Kopassus soldiers as the chief suspects in the case.
Their trial is currently underway in Surabaya, East Java. The Kopassus has also been blamed for many past atrocities committed in East Timor, a former Indonesian territory that won its independence from Indonesia in 1999, and Aceh, another province that is struggling for self-rule.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, won its independence from Jakarta in a United Nations-backed referendum on August 30, 1999, in which the population voted overwhelmingly for self rule. The vote led to months of militia-led mass murder and destruction of public property that was widely blamed on the TNI.
East Timor prosecutors earlier this week filed indictments against seven Indonesian military officers and the former governor of East Timor for committing crimes against humanity in the one-time Indonesian territory during the 1999 carnage.
The indicted individuals included General Wiranto, former defence minister and commander of the TNI, who now faces arrest in East Timor or by Interpol agents abroad if he were to leave Indonesia.
Current TNI chief Sutarto said that Indonesia was under no obligation to send Wiranto and the other indicted Indonesians to East Timor to stand trial. "So far we have no extradition treaty with East Timor, so it wouldn't be correct to hand them over to East Timor," said Sutarto.



Posted in Military @ 02 March 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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