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Indonesia protests to Malaysia over patrol boat incident JAKARTA - Indonesia's foreign affairs ministry summoned the Malaysian charge d'affaires on Friday to demand an explanation over an incident in Indonesian waters last week, in which Malaysian naval officers are said to have used force to help free fishermen arrested by Indonesian police for illegal fishing.

Yuri Oktavian Thamrin, a ministry spokesman, said that the Indonesian government had urged the Malaysians, represented at Friday's meeting by charge d'affaires Misri Barham, to investigate the incident. He said the Indonesian government would demand that "stern measures" be taken against those involved in the incident that took place in North Sumatra waters, near the international sea lanes of the Malacca Strait.

"We are probing the possibility of a territorial violation. But we have also asked Malaysia to investigate the incident. If the Malaysians are found to have violated the law, we would ask their government to take disciplinary action against their naval officers, and to extradite the fishermen to face justice here," Yuri told reporters on Friday. He added that Indonesia and Malaysia had signed an extradition treaty in 1974.

Officials from the Malaysian Embassy were not available for comment on Friday. But earlier, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said the incident should be treated with caution. "Sometimes along waters and coastal areas, there can be a misunderstanding but we have to handle it carefully so that it will not flare-up into something that will turn into a conflict," he was quoted by Reuters as saying on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Laos.

Last Wednesday, Indonesian police arrested three Malaysian trawlers that were allegedly poaching in three separate locations in the waters off Jemur island (not Jumhur island) in North Sumatra. The police then started to escort them to the nearest port of Belawan for questioning. En route to the port, the Malaysian warship KP Knembela 14 and an M-502 helicopter approached, prompting the fishermen to put up a fight using machetes and iron bars, said Brig. Gen. N. Sutisna, the director of the Water Police squad, on Thursday.

Sutisna said that the Indonesian police had been "forced at gun point" by Malaysian seamen to release the fishermen. He said Malaysian officers also "intimidated" and forced the Indonesian officers to board the Malaysian naval vessel. He noted that because the Indonesian police were outnumbered, they did not fight back and released the trawlers after an argument with Malaysian Navy officers.

Sutisna said that police had contacted their Malaysian counterparts asking that they arrest the poachers and hand them over to Indonesia, but to no avail. The has incident added to a series of territorial disputes involving the Indonesian and Malaysian navies. Indonesian and Malaysian warships brushed against each other on April 8 in the border area near the disputed Ambalat oil and gas block in the Sulawesi Sea.



Posted in General @ 30 July 2005 10:39 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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