House commission to summon TNI Commander over arms polemics

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The House of Representatives Commission I will summon Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo for clarification on his statement regarding illegal weapon imports and several hundred held by TNIs Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS).

"We are scheduled to meet on Tuesday with the defense minister and TNI commander but canceled it, as he had to attend a rehearsal for TNIs 5th anniversary commemoration. Hence, it will be rescheduled," Houses Commission I Chairman Abdul Kharis Almasyari stated at the Parliament Building, Jakarta, Monday.

He said the TNI commander being summoned to provide an explanation is an important step, as he is required to clarify on what he had expressed and the step taken by the BAIS of TNI.

According to Almasyari, the purchase of arms for military purposes must be licensed by the TNI or in this case, the Minister of Defense, but he has not been able to determine whether the BAIS has the authority to check the specifications of weapons entering Indonesia.

"I do not know yet if BAIS has the authority to check the specifications of the weapons, and I have not read the law that regulates it in detail," he elaborated.

The politician explained that the meeting with the commander and defense minister at first covered a discussion on the Defense Ministry (Kemhan) TNI budget with the minister of finance and head of the National Development Planning Agency.

However, he believes that issues, such as firearms, are important; hence, half the time should be set aside to discuss matters related to it.

Earlier, information had been circulated that 280 Stand Alone Grenade Launchers of 40 x 46 millimeter caliber and 5,932 bullets were being held by BAIS of the TNI.

Police Public Relations Division Head Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto had confirmed the news, stating that the weapons at Soekarno-Hatta Airport belonged to the institution.

According to Wasisto, the procurement of weapons is in accordance with the procedures, ranging from planning to the auction process.

"The next process is being reviewed by the Police Public Supervision Inspectorate and the Government Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP) staff, including its procurement and purchase by third parties and the process of its entry into Indonesia through the Soekarno-Hatta customs," he said.

However, Wasisto denied news of the detention, as the Mobile Brigade Corp Commandant Inspector General Murad Ismail and the TNIs Bais were aware of the procurement.(*)

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