Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Police acknowledge receiving money from Freeport OR Police acknowledge receiving Freeport money

Muninggar Sri Saraswati The Jakarta Post Jakarta

National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar acknowledged on Tuesday that police personnel also received monthly allowances from PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Freeport-McMoRan Gold and Copper Inc.

"Yes, but the (National Police) Headquarters did not (receive money)," Da'i announced after a hearing with House of Representatives Commission I for media, information and defense affairs.

Da'i was asked if the police also received a share of the US$5.6 million that PT Freeport Indonesia paid to the Indonesian Military (TNI) in 2002.

Da'i did not reveal the amount that the police received from Freeport, saying only that the funds were used to build a station for the elite police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Papua.

Brimob is a rapid-response police unit, which is occasionally deployed in restive areas such as Aceh and Papua.

Freeport said in a recent statement that it gave some US$5.6 million to TNI in 2002 alone.

"Since PT Freeport Indonesia began its operations in Papua, the Indonesian Military, along with police, has had a presence in the Contract of Work area to provide law enforcement and to protect the mining operations area," the statement said.

The money was use to build infrastructure and houses, buy fuel and repair vehicles, among other things. The money was also intended for allowances to cover administrative costs and community assistance programs carried out by the military and police.

Last year, more than 2,000 security personnel were stationed at the company's mining site. The deployment included coast guards at the port, Air Force personnel at the airport and riot police to deal with civil disturbances.

Freeport also confirmed that it had allocated "a small amount" of funds to the soldiers as cash allowances.

However, Freeport did not specify how much the TNI and the police received individually.

TNI earlier acknowledged that it had obtained protection money from Freeport. TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said that some 20 percent of the funds from Freeport was distributed to soldiers as allowances, while the rest was to build infrastructure around the mining site, which occupies 2,800 square kilometers.