Indonesian seeks Australia apology

Politician says Sydney police entered hotel room with summons for murder testimony.

    Sutiyoso, a former general now Jakarta's governor, giving his account to the press on Wednesday [AFP]

    Visit cut short

    Sutiyoso, who was scheduled to visit Canberra after Sydney, resultantly cut short his visit and flew back to Jakarta early on Wednesday.

    "I really feel slighted by such treatment," he said in Jakarta.

     

    "The thing that needs to be emphasised in this case is that it was only a request, an invitation from coronial police"

    John Williams, Australian embassy spokesman

    "They barged into my room after forcing the hotel to give them a duplicate key."

     

    "If there is no apology, I will deem it as arrogance on their part, and do we need to continue relations with Australia?

     

    "The matter will quickly be settled if they admit to their mistake."

     

    Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president, was "surprised" at the incident and expected that Australia would clarify the matter, his spokesman said.

     

    "President Yudhoyono is surprised and cannot accept the incident happened to Sutiyoso in Australia," spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said.

     

    Hassan Wirajuda, the foreign minister, had earlier sought and received an explanation from the Australian ambassador, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

     

    Embassy statement

     

    The Australian embassy stressed that police had not been acting on behalf of the Australian government in requesting he give evidence.

     

    "The thing that needs to be emphasised in this case is that it was only a request, an invitation from coronial police. Mr Sutiyoso was not forced to come to the inquest," John Williams, an embassy spokesman, told ElShinta radio.

     

    Protesters called for the Australian embassy
    to be burnt down over the incident [AFP]

    Several hundred people, mainly members of youth groups, rallied outside the embassy in Jakarta over the incident, calling for it to be burnt down, amid tight security.

     

    They chanted: "Get out, get out Australia" and sang the Indonesian national anthem. An embassy official later met with protest leaders before the crowd dispersed.

     

    The inquest in Sydney is probing the death of the cameraman who was among five British, Australian and New Zealand newsmen killed in crossfire in Balibo before the Indonesian military's invasion of East Timor in 1975.

     

    Their families insist they were murdered and there was a cover-up by Canberra and Jakarta.

     

    East Timor stint

     

    Sutiyoso, a retired lieutenant-general, served in the military for three decades and was part of Indonesia's occupation of the half-island nation.

     

    He denied he played any role in the killings on Wednesday.

     

    Sutiyoso said: "I did not go to Balibo, my troops were not in Balibo. I was in another place but not Balibo."

     

    He said he had lodged a formal protest with the New South Wales government in Sydney, where he was the official guest of Morris Lemma, the district premier, to revive a co-operation pact between the state and Jakarta.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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