Bounty for arrest of president baseless

Bounty for arrest of president baseless

Prof. Hikmahanto Juwana. (ANTARA/Ujang Zaelani)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The bounty offered by separatist group Free West Papua Movement for the arrest of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his October visit to Britain has no legal basis, according to an observer.

Himahanto Juwana, an international law observer from the University of Indonesia, said here on Thursday that the head of state should ignore the report because Free West Papua Movement did not have legal authority.

He pointed out that the separatist group could not get the head of state arrested. "The President should not be daunted this time and ensure that events such as his cancelled visit to the Netherlands in October 2010 do not get repeated," Himahanto said.

Himahanto added that separatist group Republic of South Maluku (RMS) had at the time filed a request at a Dutch court for the arrest of President Yudhoyono ahead of his scheduled visit to the Netherlands.

In view of the RMS move, the President cancelled his visit to the Netherlands.

Himahanto cited three reasons why he thought the Free West Papua Movement would not be able to get President Yudhoyono arrested.

"First, they do not have the authority to ask the British government to issue an arrest warrant in the form of a wanted circular," he said.

In most countries, only the state has the authority to issue such an order, such as the one by the US government in its efforts to arrest Umar Patek.

Secondly, the British government has assured the safety and security of the President during his visit to Britain at the invitation of the Queen, Himahanto pointed out.

Of course there will be no legal proceedings against the President. If that happens, the British government must be embarrassed because it would be considered a diplomatic slap, he said.

Lastly, the bounty has no legal basis because such offers are strictly legal matters, Himahanto stated.

Earlier, Presidential spokesman Julian A Pasha said the British government guaranteed the safety and security of President Yudhoyono during his visit to the country.

Julian made the statement in response to a report that Ed McWilliams, a West Papuan separatist activist, had offered a bounty of US$80,000 for the capture of Yudhoyono during his visit to Britain in October.

Ed McWilliams is a member of the West Papuan Advocacy Team (WPAT).

"The British police have also assured that such arrest will not take place and the safety of the President is fully guaranteed by the British government," Julian said.

However, he noted that reports about the bounty offer had caused concern among Indonesians.

"We have communicated with the British embassy in Jakarta. Frankly speaking, this matter needs to be straightened out. The President`s plan to visit Britain is at the invitation of the British Queen in her capacity as the head of state," Julian added.

He said both countries had already discussed the matter in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

"The British government, the Queen in particular, has invited the President as a figure who has contributed a lot to the development of democracy in Indonesia," Julian stated.
(Uu.A014/INE/KR-BSR/S012)

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