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The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post, January 18, 2003

Separatists told to leave Ambon to attend trial

Aziz Tunny, The Jakarta Post, Ambon, Maluku

The North Jakarta Prosecutor's Office has ordered Maluku separatist leaders Alex Manuputty and Semmy Waeleruny to leave Ambon and return to Jakarta within 10 days to attend further hearings in their subversion trials, officials said on Friday.

The order was issued as Maluku security authorities warned that the presence of Alex and Semmy in Ambon could spark renewed violence in the troubled province, where the latest bomb blast on Monday tested a peace deal to end four years of sectarian conflict there.

"They should not have returned home first to Ambon because it is feared to bring a negative impact to the security situation in Ambon and other areas of Maluku and this could create anxiety among local people," said acting Maluku Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang, who is also chief of the province's civil emergency authorities.

Alex and Semmy, leaders of the separatist Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM), returned home to Ambon on Jan. 11, a few days after they were released from detention at the National Police Headquarters.

Head of the Maluku Prosecutor's Office Badrani Rasyid said the return of the two suspects, charged with treason, to Ambon was without the knowledge of prosecutors in North Jakarta, who were handling their separatist case.

He said their return to Ambon had also affected their trial in the North Jakarta District Court as the two defendants had skipped another round of a hearing on Jan. 13.

For that reason, the North Jakarta Prosecutor's Office issued an order for Manuputty and Semmy to leave Ambon and attend their further trials in Jakarta.

"We give Alex Manuputty and Semmy Waeleruny 10 days (from Friday) to leave Ambon and report to the North Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, so that they can attend their upcoming court hearing on Jan. 27," Badrani told The Jakarta Post.

He said he had extended the instruction to the defendants, but could not say how they would respond.

"We have sent the facsimile to Alex Manuputty and Semmy Walerunny for signing, after which the letter was sent back to the North Jakarta Prosecutor's Office," Badrani said.

Meanwhile, Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Bambang Sutrisno declined to comment on Friday about the return of the two defendants to Ambon.

"It is beyond my jurisdiction to explain the whereabouts of Alex and Semmy because they are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. So, their current return to Ambon is under the ministry's supervision as the two defendants are on trial," he said.

Even though Alex and Semmy have reportedly returned to Ambon, they could not be found at their homes.

Bambang, however, said an unnamed policeman was arrested for picking up Alex at Ambon airport on Jan. 11, where he had arrived from Jakarta.

The policeman in question, who was identified as Alex's son-in law, is being detained because he picked up the separatist leader while wearing his police uniform.

Alex was arrested following his plan to hoist a separatist flag on April 25, 2002, which coincided with the 52nd anniversary celebration of the South Maluku Republic (RMS) movement.

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