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ABC AUSTRALIA, 30/06/2004 19:00:28

Indonesia to put Maluku separatists on trial

Thirty pro-independence activists from Indonesia's Maluku islands will be put on trial after the country votes in presidential elections on July 5.

The head of the prosecution office in the eastern province of Maluku, says one of the cases will involve the wife of fugitive Maluku separatist leader, Alexander Manuputty.

Manuputty heads the Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM).

He and his deputy Sammy Waileruni were arrested in Ambon in April 2002 after encouraging followers to hoist banned flags of the so-called Republic of South Maluku.

The two were sentenced to three years in prison in January last year on subversion charges.

An appeals court in May increased their jail terms to four years.

But Manuputty fled to the United States after he was released pending an appeal filed with the Supreme Court.

Residents loyal to colonial rule proclaimed the Malukus, also known as the Spice Islands, a republic in 1950, a year after the Dutch formally conceded Indonesia's independence.

The movement was quickly quelled.

The Malukus witnessed a wave of bitter clashes between Muslims and Christians that erupted in January 1999 and left over 5,000 people dead.

In April this year the FKM was blamed for a week of violence in Ambon that left 38 people dead.

28/06/2004 17:17:01 | ABC Radio Australia News
2004 ABC

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