PNG Likely to Protect Indonesian Fugitive: Analyst

By webadmin on 11:53 am Jul 23, 2012
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Rangga Prakoso & Ismira Lutfia

Although graft fugitive Djoko Tjandra is on Interpol’s most-wanted list, Papua New Guinea, where he is believed to be hiding, will not likely give him over to Indonesia, a law professor said during the weekend.

Hikmahanto Juwana, an expert in international law at the University of Indonesia, said the PNG government showed little political will in adhering to Indonesia’s request to bring the fugitive business tycoon back to the country, particularly after granting him citizenship.

“In Papua New Guinea, police [action] relies heavily on its bureaucracy,” the professor told the Jakarta Globe.

He suspected Djoko had invested heavily in the neighboring country and that citizenship was granted to him as a reward.

“If the Papua New Guinea government needs Djoko’s money and business connections, than the Papua New Guinea police will have to sideline [the warrant on Djoko’s arrest],” he said.

Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin said on Sunday that the government was still lobbying PNG to give up Djoko.

Amir said getting Djoko home would be a lengthy process because the countries do not have an extradition agreement. The fugitive could also challenge a decision from PNG authorities to bring him back to Indonesia in a local court, he added.

“Whether he will do this or not, we still don’t know,” Amir said. “But this mechanism definitely applies [in PNG].”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michael Tene said the Djoko controversy would not disrupt relations between both countries.

“Indonesia and Papua New Guinea’s relationship is comprehensive, so this problem will not disrupt it, especially since we’re neighboring countries,” he said.

PNG has stated its interest in joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which Indonesia helped found.

Deputy Attorney General Darmono said he had talked with PNG’s ambassador to Indonesia, Peter Ilau, and that PNG was deliberating Indonesia’s request.

“We’ll just wait for whatever developments from the Papua New Guinea government,” he said.

Djoko faces a two-year prison sentence and a fine of Rp 15 million for his role in a graft scandal.

His now-defunct Bank Bali paid a $70 million “commission” to Era Giat Prima, one of his companies, which was linked to the then-ruling Golkar Party, for help in the recovery of loans owed by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency.

Witnesses suggested Golkar Party treasurer Setya Novanto received kickbacks in the case, but no formal allegations were ever leveled against him.

Djoko is wanted by Interpol after he fled Indonesia in 2009, hours before the Supreme Court convicted him of embezzling Rp 586 billion ($62 million).