Australia yet to clarify bribery allegations: Indonesian MFA spokesperson

Australia yet to clarify bribery allegations: Indonesian MFA spokesperson

Arrmanatha Nasir. (ANTARA)

We see this as an attempt to deflect the real issue."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australia has yet to respond to Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudis request for clarification regarding an allegation that Canberra had bribed human smugglers to turn their boat back to Indonesian waters.

"We have not received a clarification yet," Spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Arrmanatha Nasir told journalists here on Thursday when asked about the subject.

Indonesias request for a clarification from Australia about the cash payment issue is warranted in accordance with the Bali Process agreement. Under this deal, countries in the region that face human smuggling and human trafficking problems agreed to comprehensively handling them, he pointed out.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott looked reluctant to admit or deny the bribery allegations.

In addition, instead of clarifying the issue, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop urged Jakarta to secure the sovereignty of its territorial waters.

Nasir stated that he was surprised to hear the Australian governments comment as reflected in Bishops statement.

"We are a bit surprised to hear Australias response. We see this as an attempt to deflect the real issue," he remarked.

In coping with the human smuggling and human trafficking problems, Nasir noted that Indonesia was serious about securing and defending its territorial waters. Jakarta emphasizes the importance of identifying a comprehensive solution to the smuggling and trafficking of people by involving the country of origin as well as the transit and destination countries, he said.

When questioned about the Australian governments clarification, which they have yet to receive, Nasir affirmed that the law enforcement processes of the six suspects involved in the smuggling of the refugees to Australia were ongoing.

"Australias clarification is not needed to carry out the legal processes because there are other pieces of evidence that can be used for investigation and other legal processes," the ministry spokesman pointed out.

The Indonesian police in East Nusa Tenggara provinces Rote Island had recently apprehended six crew members of a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers, comprising 54 Sri Lankans, ten Bangladeshis, and one Myanmarese national.

The suspects told the police that they were bribed by personnel of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service to turn their boat back to Indonesian waters. Each crew member received AU$5,000 and the vessels skipper got AU$6,000.

"Evidence has been gathered, and Rote Islands police will continue with their investigation into this case," Nasir affirmed.

(Reported by Yuni Arisandy/Uu.R013/INE/KR-BSR/B003)

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