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Aceh rebels serve prison terms in Central Java SEMARANG - Under a tight security escort 54 convicted Free Aceh Movement (GAM) members were transferred from Aceh on Thursday to prisons across Central Java to serve their sentences. The group is the first batch of 143 prisoners who will do their jail time in exile across Java.
Wearing blue prison uniforms, the rebels -- all sentenced to three years or more in prison -- were handcuffed and chained to each other. Officers led them to a truck that drove them to Sultan Iskandar Muda military air base in Blang Bintang, Aceh Besar. Shuffling to the truck, the rebels could only bow their heads, with their hands holding their few belongings -- worn-out pillows and mattresses.
They were then flown by an Air Force C-130 Hercules to Semarang, the capital of Central Java. Only a few had the chance to meet family members before leaving. "The transfer of the prisoners is due to legal procedures -- especially after we learned all of the prisons here are overcrowded," Aceh Police Chief Insp. Gen. Bachrumsyah Kasman said as he watched the transfer of the GAM prisoners. "Most of the prisoners were former GAM commanders in the field," he added.
Bachrumsyah said a second batch of about 89 prisoners would be flown immediately to Java from the North Aceh town of Lhokseumawe. They would include former GAM negotiators Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba, Teuku Kamaruzzaman, Nashiruddin bin Ahmad, Amni bin Ahmad Marzuki and Muhammad Usman.
Meanwhile in Semarang, Marsono, head of the provincial office of justice and human rights, said that 10 of the 54 prisoners would have to serve their prison terms at the Ambarawa town penitentiary, 23 at the Pekalongan town penitentiary, while the remaining 21 would be at the Magelang penitentiary -- all in Central Java. "The government initially planned to transfer two other female inmates, but had to cancel that decision," Marsono told reporters without elaborating.
To secure the situation in Semarang when the rebels arrived, two platoons of Army soldiers equipped with M-16 rifles and dozens of police personnel were deployed. Marsono said the government had decided to send 79 of 89 GAM prisoners in the second batch to the Nusakambangan maximum security prison island, while the remaining 10 would serve their terms at Semarang's Kedung Pane penitentiary.
"About 32 GAM prisoners will be in Permisan, 20 others in Kembang Kuning, and the remaining 27 in Batu," Marsono said. The government has said the exile was required to prevent the rebels from encouraging separatism in their homeland. Over 1,000 rebels have been captured or surrendered since the Indonesian Military (TNI) launched its massive offensive against GAM in May last year.



Posted in Aceh conflict @ 23 January 2004 00:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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