Wed, 24 Sep 2003

Prosecutors seek 18 year jail term for GAM negotiator head

Nani Farida The Jakarta Post Banda Aceh

State prosecutors have demanded an 18-year jail term for Free Aceh Movement (GAM) head negotiator Teungku Sofyan Ibrahim Tiba and 16 years for negotiation team member Teungku Nashiruddin bin Ahmed.

The prosecutors told the Banda Aceh District Court on Tuesday that both Sofyan and Nashiruddin were guilty of treason and terrorism, charges that carry the maximum sentence of death.

"The defendants have carried out terrorist acts that create uneasiness among Acehnese people and seek to separate Aceh from Indonesia," prosecutor Muklish said.

Muklish said the two had taken part in destroying public facilities and vital facilities through bombings and burnings, shooting civilians and military personnel, kidnapping, killing, extortion, and illegal possession of firearms.

"The defendants have shown no regret in the court," Muklish said in a trial presided over by judge Maratuo Rambe.

The meeting was adjourned until Oct. 6 to listen to defense pleas by the defendants and their lawyers.

GAM negotiators Sofyan, Nashirudin, Amni bin Ahmad Marzuki, Teuku Kamaruzzaman, and Teungku Muhammad bin Usman were arrested when the military emergency was imposed in the troubled province on May 19.

Prosecutors are due to deliver sentence recommendations for the three other negotiators on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the military said five separatist rebels were killed Tuesday in the latest clashes in Aceh province, where an anti-rebel campaign is in its fifth month.

Aceh military operation spokesman Lt. Col. Ahmad Yani Basuki said troops on Tuesday morning shot dead two guerrillas during a raid in the Batee area of Pidie district.

He said soldiers also gunned down three other rebels in East Aceh's area of Peureulak and Kejuruan Muda.

Last week, military leaders said in Jakarta that more than 900 GAM rebels had been killed since a major operation began on May 19. Sixty-six members of the security forces have died.

More than 1,800 other rebels had been arrested or had surrendered in the operation to crush what the military initially estimated to be 5,000 guerrillas.

The military said last week that 304 civilians had also died but did not say who was responsible for the deaths.

Government and rebel negotiators last December struck an internationally mediated ceasefire that led to a brief but shaky truce in GAM's 26-year-old battle for independence of the oil- rich province.

When the deal faltered the Indonesian military launched an all-out attempt to crush GAM after final crisis talks in Tokyo collapsed.