Thu, 27 May 2004

FKM leader's son-in-law moved as precaution: Police

P.C. Naommy, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The police officer son-in-law of Maluku Sovereignty Forum (FKM) leader Alexander Manuputty has been transferred by the Maluku City Police to Tual in Southeast Maluku.

The man, who has been identified only as First Brig. AK, is the husband of Christin Kakisina, who is currently in police custody at National Police Headquarters.

National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar said on Wednesday that the move was part of a campaign against officers who are suspected of abetting the forum, which supports the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) movement.

"We have already taken measures against a police officer, who is also the son-in-law of Alex Manuputty," Da'i said after attending a religious ceremony at police headquarters.

Da'i was answering reporters' questions about allegations that officers from Maluku Police Headquarters might have protected members of the Maluku separatist movement during a deadly riot that killed at least 38 people on April 25 in Ambon.

Manuputty, who was sentenced to three years in jail for treason, sneaked out of the country in November 2003 and is now living in the United States.

His wife Olly Manuputty and daughter Christin Kakisina were arrested earlier this month and are now being detained at National Police Headquarters in Jakarta.

According to a spokesman for the National Police, Insp. Gen. Paiman, AK was assigned to the Tual Police in December last year.

"To be moved that far away from his family is punishment on its own," said Paiman. He added that the sending of First Brig. AK to Tual was meant to avoid anything untoward, such as the leaking of information.

According to legal expert T. Gayus Lumbuun, the transfer of Alex Manuputty's son-in-law from his previous unit represented an exercise of discretion on the part of the police, and could be perceived either positively or negatively -- positively if it was based on objective considerations by the police, but negatively if it constituted an abuse of power.

"If the decision was made to calm local people, then we could consider it a positive action. But if it resulted from bias, that would mean that the police had engaged in an abuse of power simply to put pressure on Manuputty," said Gayus.

Gayus, who believes that the police should stay neutral, said that they needed to provide evidence of the officer's involvement before making such a decision.

The police claim they brought Christin, along with 11 other alleged members of the Maluku separatist movement, to Jakarta from Ambon in early May for questioning and for the "sake of security".

The 12 were charged with treason in connection with a riot that broke out in Ambon following a ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the declaration of the South Maluku Republic (RMS).

Paiman said that the police were currently questioning six officers attached to Maluku Police Headquarters who were allegedly involved in the escape of four separatists from detention.

According to Paiman, the six officers were on duty when the four separatists broke out of jail. "If convicted, they will not only be disciplined, but also demoted," he added.