Army commences questioning over Papua military riot

The Jakarta Post, May 1, 2009

Cendrawasih Papua Military Police has begun questioning soldiers of Sentani army base in Jayapura, Papua, who were involved in a violent protest on Wednesday. Lt. Col. Susilo, chief spokesman of Papua Military Command, told Antara on Friday that the military police had questioned most of the soldiers from the base’s E Company.

“The questioning started yesterday, and today we will continue,” Susilo said. Three commanding officers of Battalion 751, who were stripped oftheir posts following the incident, would also be questioned.

Violence erupted on Wednesday as Battalion 751 Sentani soldiers protested an alleged embezzlement of money from their salaries by their commanding officer, Lt. Col. Lambok Sihotang, [not Labok Sihotang as previously reported].

The riot had broken out during celebrations held to mark West Papua’s integration into Indonesia. The 167 soldiers demanded that their commander, Sihotang, be held responsible for taking money from soldiers pay for the funeral of Priv. Joko.

They had demanded to meet the Army’s chief of staff but their request was not granted. In protest, the soldiers began destroying buildings within the base. They also attacked several journalist who were reporting on the celebrations. (dre)

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