Tue, 21 Jan 2003

FBI not part of probe team: Minister

JAKARTA: Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday that the visit of U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigators to Papua should not be seen as intervention into the investigative process regarding the Freeport shooting.

The investigation of the case had to be conducted under the Indonesian legal system while the presence of the FBI "is just to assist the Indonesian joint investigating team", Susilo said.

"Due to the incident, two American citizen were killed. Thus, the U.S. government needs a thorough investigation report as it's accountable to the Senate and Congress there. So, we are pleased to allow them (FBI agents) to come to Papua.

"Otherwise, I'd only get tired of being accused (by the public) of not seriously investigating the incident," Susilo told reporters here on Monday.

The government formed a joint investigating team comprising military and police personnel in December, 2002, after the findings made by the two institutions failed to concur.

The investigation by the police concluded that military personnel were involved in the shooting, while a probe by the military said that the Free Papua Movement (OPM) was behind the bloodshed at the PT Freeport copper and gold mine in Timika, Papua.

U.S. President George W. Bush has called for a Bali-style joint investigating team involving FBI agents. The FBI men are expected to arrive here on Tuesday. --JP