Dutch court rejects exiled separatists’ demand to have Indonesian president arrested

By Mike Corder, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bid to have Indonesian president arrested fails

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A Dutch court Wednesday rejected a separatist group’s bid to have Indonesia’s president arrested for alleged human rights violations during a state visit to the Netherlands.

The Hague District Court decision means the Dutch government will not be ordered to arrest Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono if he flies to the Netherlands.

Yudhoyono canceled his state visit Tuesday at the last minute after exiled Moluccan separatists demanded his arrest in an injunction.

The court published only its rejection of the injunction. It will give a detailed explanation of its decision next week.

Yudhoyono’s state visit, which was to have started Wednesday with an official welcome at Queen Beatrix’s Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, would have been the first in 40 years by an Indonesian president to the country’s former colonial master.

It was not immediately clear if Yudhoyono would reschedule the visit following the court’s decision.

In Jakarta, the president’s spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, said he was awaiting official confirmation about the decision from Indonesia’s embassy in the Netherlands.

The leader of the South Moluccan government in exile, John Wattilete, said he was not surprised by the decision and pledged to confront Yudhoyono if he does visit the Netherlands.

“We will give the president a warm welcome,” Wattilete told The Associated Press. “We will make clear in a peaceful manner that he has breached human rights.”

Wattilete said that around 50,000 people of Moluccan ancestry live in the Netherlands.

In the 1970s, radical separatists hijacked two trains and occupied a school, holding dozens of children hostage to highlight the plight of Moluccans.

There was no immediate reaction from the Dutch government. On Tuesday, it issued a statement saying it regretted Yudhoyono’s decision to put off his visit, saying it had assured him he would not have been arrested.

“The Dutch government has confirmed the head of state is immune from prosecution and explained how legal procedures in the Netherlands work,” the statement said, adding that the government in The Hague “has faith in the continuation of the excellent friendly bilateral relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia.”

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has made tremendous strides toward democratization since emerging from decades of dictatorship under Gen. Suharto in 1998.

The country has been lauded for sweeping reforms that have freed the media and vastly improved human rights.

But the government is highly sensitive to separatist struggles in the Malukus and easternmost Papua province, where activists have been given lengthy prison terms and have allegedly been tortured for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or for raising separatist flags.

Associated Press writer Irwan Firdaus in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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