- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 11, 2003


FBI agents probe U.S. teacher killings

JAKARTA — Four FBI agents have been in Papua province all week on their third trip there to investigate the killing of two Americans in the remote province last year, police said yesterday.

Indonesian police have neither made arrests nor named any suspects in the Aug. 31, 2002, incident in which gunmen sprayed bullets at a van carrying teachers from an international school owned by PT Freeport Indonesia, which runs copper and gold mines in the Papuan mountains.

Accusations that Indonesian troops might have been involved in the attack, in which an Indonesian was also killed, have dogged the case. “They reached Timika four days ago, on Monday,” said Gen. Erwin Mappaseng, head of the national police criminal investigation department. “They are working under the auspices of the Indonesian police,” he told reporters.


Guerrillas charge candidates for access

MANILA — Starved of foreign funds, communist guerrillas in the Philippines are using next year’s presidential election to make a quick buck, Defense Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.

The New People’s Army (NPA) has warned candidates running in national and local elections to buy “permits” to campaign in rebel-influenced areas before the May voting, he said. In the past, candidates without rebel passes had been ambushed.

“They have intensified that to make up for lost contributions coming from abroad,” Mr. Ermita told the Foreign Correspondents Association here. Congressional hopefuls are being told to pay the equivalent of $9,000 for local access, while gubernatorial candidates are being charged $5,400 and mayoral candidates, $903.

Mr. Ermita said foreign fund flows to the 9,300-member NPA dried up after the United States declared it a “foreign terrorist organization” after the September 11, 2001, suicide attacks in the United States.

Weekly notes

Illegal immigrants on hunger strike to protest their detention by Australian authorities on the South Pacific island of Nauru vowed yesterday to continue until “freedom or death.” Four of the nine detainees have sewn their lips together to highlight their determination. Hundreds of illegal immigrants, including 93 children, are being held on Nauru as part of the “Pacific solution,” under which newly arrived boat people are sent far away to prevent their access to Australian courts. … Thailand is indiscriminately blacklisting drug suspects, many of whom appear to be innocent and now live in fear, a human rights group charged this week. The country’s National Human Rights Commission said the fact that 329,000 people blacklisted by police on suspicion of drug involvement indicates the lists may have been drawn up arbitrarily.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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