- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 23, 2003

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 23 (UPI) — FBI agents have traveled to Jakarta to help a stalled investigation into the killings of two U.S. teachers in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua last year, officials said Thursday.

National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said the FBI agents met with chief of national police detectives Erwin Mappaseng before heading to Papua.

Aritonang said the FBI's team would work with police in the investigation of the shooting that took place near a gold and copper mine. He added that prosecution of the case would be under the Indonesian legal system as the crime occurred in Indonesia.

Two U.S. schoolteachers and an Indonesian were killed last Aug. 31 by unidentified gunmen who ambushed their convoy near the U.S.-Indonesia mining project PT Freeport Indonesia. The mine is near Papua's Timika district, about 1,400 miles northeast of Jakarta.

No one has been arrested for the shooting.

Papua's deputy police chief, Brig. Gen. Raziman Tarigan, said members of the army's special forces unit, known by its acronym Kopassus, were suspected of involvement in the attack. Human rights groups have alleged Kopassus carried out the slayings to discredit a small separatist rebel movement in Papua.

But the chief of the Indonesian military, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, strongly denied any involvement.

The investigation into the shooting incident has been bogged down with police complaining they have no authority to question military witnesses.

Initially, the Indonesian government and the military claimed the FBI would not be involved in the investigation, but later reversed their stance after President Bush reportedly made FBI involvement a prerequisite for resumption of full military ties between the United States and Indonesia.

Military ties between Jakarta and most Western countries were cut after Indonesian troops and their proxy militias went on the rampage in East Timor before and after it voted for independence in 1999, killing hundreds of people.




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